I think most authors know that copyright registration is not a requirement for protection under the copyright law, since copyright is secured automatically when a work is created. So why bother registering a copyright?
That’s what I’ve always wondered, so I decided to attend a seminar last night at the East Meadow Public Library, Long Island, N.Y., titled, “Long Island Writers and Authors: Copyrighting Your Work.” The presenter was Omid Zareh, a co-founding partner of Weinberg Zareh & Geyerhahn, LLP, based in Merrick, N.Y. Zareh advises in various areas of the law, including technology, intellectual property, real property and corporate disputes.
According to Zareh, although registering a copyright is considered a legal formality, doing so does give authors some additional protections under the law. In particular, if copyright registration is made within three months after publication of a work or prior to an infringement of the work, statutory damages and attorney’s fees will be available to the copyright owner in court actions. (Otherwise, only an award of actual damages and profits is available to the copyright owner.) It also establishes a public record of the copyright claim and is necessary should an infringement suit ever be filed in court. Additionally, it allows you to record the registration with the U.S. Customs Service to protect against the importation of infringing copies.
And if that wasn’t compelling enough, registering a work is super-easy and -inexpensive. Simply visit the U.S. Copyright Office’s website, and file a copyright registration for your work using the Office’s online system. To file online, it only costs $35 (to file a paper claim, it’s $65).
Ease of filing. Cost-effectiveness. Added legal protections. Really, there doesn’t seem to be a reason NOT to register a copyright for a work. I think I’m sold.