Your work is officially protected as soon as you create it — no official US Copyright Office registration necessary.
However, just because registration isn’t strictly required doesn’t mean there aren’t excellent reasons to officially register your copyright. Let’s look at a few of these reasons below.
1. You need a copyright registration before you can bring legal action against someone for infringing on your rights.
Being protected by a copyright is one thing; defending that copyright in a court of law is quite another. If you want to sue someone for using your material without permission, you’ll need an official copyright registration.
2. It’s extremely expensive to rush a copyright registration.
Over 20 times more expensive, to be precise.
A leisurely copyright registration costs a mere $35. The process takes a few months. No big deal.
Now, assume someone does use your work, and you can’t wait a few months — you want to bring them to court right away. You can certainly register your copyright after the fact — for $760. Isn’t it a lot simpler (and cheaper!) to register right away, before any legal entanglements?
3. Immediate registration allows for the recovery of legal fees.
If you register your copyright right away (before copyright infringement comes to light, or within three months of publication), you could potentially seek an award that includes statutory damages and attorney’s fees.
However, if you register after copyright infringement, or after three months have passed since publication, you’ll be paying your own legal fees no matter how the lawsuit turns out. And, to make matters worse, you’ll only be able to recover actual damages and lost profits.
4. Registration creates a public record of your work.
If you write a song, for example, and someone hears it and wants to contact you and offer you money in exchange for licensing rights, wouldn’t you want to make it as easy as possible for that person to contact you?
With an official copyright registration, you’ll be able to provide and address and/or email address — whatever you’re comfortable with — for public inquiries. All anyone has to do is type in the name of your work, and they’ll know exactly how you’d like to be contacted about it. Simple!
With all of these reasons to protect your with with the US Copyright Office, $35 doesn’t seem very high. Protect your work — and your rights — today!