Federal and International Copyright Registration
Copyright registration is the legal means used to protect the owner of a published or unpublished work against illegal copying or use by others. A wide variety of material can be copyrighted and there are three kinds of copyright.
Common Law Copyright
The creator of a work, or the agent under whose direction a work is created (in cases of work for hire) is the common law owner of the work from the moment it is created in a tangible form (written down or recorded). This is the case whether or not it has been published, whether or not it has been performed, whether or not anyone has seen it besides the creator.
You can place a copyright mark – © – on your work even without registering it. (Be sure to include the year of first creation/publication and the name of the owner of copyright behind the mark.)
So, why bother to register your work with the US Copyright Office if it’s already copyrighted under common law?
The Benefits of Federal Copyright Registration
If you register your creative work, you have several benefits that you would not have if you simply stamped your work with a ©. You have the ability to sue in federal court anyone who infringes on your copyright. You can be awarded damages - up to $150,000 if there was willful copyright infringement. And you can recover attorney’s fees if you do bring an infringement lawsuit, which can be substantial.
Registration is not costly. It’s best to register your work before you first publish or release it to public view. Registration creates a public record of your work, which helps to establish your claim of ownership should someone else say they created it first.
As the owner of the work, you have the right to reproduce, distribute, perform, and display the work. You can also permit others to use your registered, copyrighted material through licensing agreements or manufacturing and distribution agreements.
Dallas Copyright Attorney
At Norred Law, PLLC, we work with creative businesses of all sizes and in a wide range of industries, helping them protect their intellectual property. From initial copyright registration to business agreements that maximize the value of your intellectual property, Dallas copyright attorney Warren V. Norred works to ensure your rights are protected with both U.S. and international copyright.
International Copyright Registration
There is no one copyright law recognized by all countries around the world. Indeed, some countries have no law against copyright infringement. But there are international treaties that have helped to streamline the process of protecting creative works in member countries. Learn more about how our firm can help you through the international copyright registration process.