When you create original works such as books, music, videos, and other forms of intellectual property (IP), they are automatically protected by copyright law. You don’t need to file anything to receive copyright protection. You want to file them to be able to prove that you have copyright protection. Filing for it creates a documented date that proves you had the copyright by a certain date before someone else who may seek to infringe on your copyright.
So you do gain protection by registering your work with the U.S. Copyright Office, in a way. This gives you a definitive advantage in legal battles in case someone attempts to copy or otherwise infringe upon your work. The copyright attorneys at Emerson Thomson Bennett have significant experience working with copyrights and can break down the benefits of copyright registration.
What Benefits Does Copyright Registration Ensure?
Let’s go over what rights are confirmed by filing for a copyright. These rights are applied differently based on what kind of intellectual property (IP) the copyright is for.
- Proof of Ownership: As stated, registering your work gives you a public record that you’re the owner of the copyrighted work.
- Ability to Sue for Infringement: In the United States, you cannot file a lawsuit for copyright infringement unless the copyright is registered. While you own a copyright as soon as you create a piece of IP, you can’t prove it without registering the copyright. Courts are predisposed to assume that whoever holds the oldest copyright – or the only copyright – is the one who owns the rights to the IP.
- Statutory Damages and Attorney’s Fees: If you register your copyright before someone commits infringement or within three months of publication, you may be eligible to receive statutory damages. This is a set amount you receive per infringement and your attorney’s fees if you win your lawsuit. Without registration, you can only recover actual damages, which can be difficult to prove.
- Creates an Official Record: Registration creates an official record of your copyright with the copyright office, which can be used to prevent others from claiming they independently created the work. Sometimes copyrights that infringe on yours are still approved, but the U.S. Copyright Office serves as a good first line of defense.
- International Protection: While copyright protection is automatic in many countries once the work is created, some countries do offer additional protections or advantages to registered works.
Copyright law is standard across the country, but if you’re planning to take your property outside of the country, we can help you with properly filing your IP for foreign copyright protection.
How to Utilize the Benefits of Copyright Registration Across Different IP
There are many different kinds of IP that you can protect with copyright, but due to the various methods they’re facilitated and consumed, you would use copyright protection differently. These differences can be small and large from each other depending on what kind of IP they are.
- Software & Apps: Copyrighting your software or app gives you legal standing to pursue infringement cases if someone attempts to copy, sell, distribute, use, or modify it without your permission. You’d have to go through someone else’s software and compare it to your own. Unlike other types of IP, you would be comparing mathematical values, which are not up to much interpretation. If your software matches up on the backend of the supposedly infringing software or achieves the same copyrighted result, you can sue.
- Books: Copyright registration is recommended for authors who wish to protect their works from unauthorized use. Unlike with software and apps, people can still use aspects of your book legally and openly in quotes, in a review, or as satire. You can’t be satirical with programming code.
- Music: Registering the copyright to a musical work makes it easier for the owner to defend their rights if anyone attempts to copy or use their music without permission. Music is closer to books in terms of how much protection copyrights give it, and how people can still reference your music in their art.
- Videos: While video content does have copyright protections, they are more difficult to prove unless they copy aspects of a script. Visual techniques and styles are not copyright protected so unless someone uses your trademark or a property you own as the subject matter of their video, it isn’t a good idea to focus on the aspects of videos that you don’t find in other mediums.
- Media Content: Media content in this regard can include things such as online articles, podcasts, and webinars. Online articles receive protections and limitations similar to books and music, whereas podcasts receive similar protections to videos. The protections that webinars receive depend wholly on how much of the webinar is written content versus visual content.
Contact the Attorneys at Emerson Thomson Bennett for Legal Assistance With Your Copyright
There are no downsides to filing for a copyright. Even if you never had to utilize the protection, copyrights passively warn others away from trying to infringe on your intellectual property, no matter the form your IP takes.
If you’re unsure of how to best utilize the benefits of copyright registration or how to register for a copyright for your different types of IP, contact the attorneys at Emerson Thomson Bennett for help today.