At Wang IP Law Group, P.C., in California, we know how proud you are of your artistic creations, be they paintings, books, musical compositions, photographs, architectural drawings, computer programs or other expressions of your creative genius. We also understand your desire to maintain complete control over these creations. They are, after all, your intellectual property, and you have every right to prevent others from using, copying or distributing them without your permission.
You may already know that once you put your creation(s) into final, tangible form, they automatically become copyrighted and you can affix the copyright symbol to them. What you may not know, however, is that this automatic copyright is insufficient to fully protect you.
As the U.S. Copyright Office explains, you must register your copyrights to obtain their full benefits. While your automatic copyright and its accompanying symbol stop most people from stealing, expropriating, plagiarizing or claiming your creations as their own, other people are not so easily deterred. Should you ever find it necessary to sue someone for copyright infringement, you have no substantive proof that you actually created your creation without a copyright registration.
Registering your copyright(s) is a reasonably simple and inexpensive procedure. Once you do so, you receive the following benefits:
- You receive a registration certificate that includes a unique registration number and the date of registration.
- This registration is prima facie proof that you created and own the copyrighted material.
- Your registration is a matter of public record.
- If you sue someone for copyright infringement, you can collect not only damages, but also attorney’s fees and court costs.
Although immediate registration is always your safest strategy, you have five years from the date on which you “publish” your creation to register your copyright. For registration purposes, “publish” means the date on which you put your creation into final, tangible form. It does not mean the date, if any, on which you actually published your work for sale to the public.
For more information on this subject, please visit this page on our website.