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How do I prepare for copyright registration and litigation?

Inventors who create qualifying works after January 1, 1978 receive copyright at the moment the work becomes tangible. However, registration or publication with the Copyright Office is also wise for a number of reasons. The following will delve into the importance of this step and provide some basic information on the benefits of litigation in the event there is infringement of your copyrighted works.

What does the U.S. Copyright Office consider “tangible” for these purposes?

In order to receive copyright protection, the work must qualify. To qualify, the U.S. Copyright Office generally requires the work be tangible. In general, this means the work must be more than an idea. Examples of tangible materials subject to copyright protections include literary works, musical works, pictures, graphics, movies and architectural works.

Why is it important to register a copyright?

This step will help to better ensure you can exercise your copyright protections in the event of infringement. In order to file a lawsuit, the courts generally require registration to move forward with litigation. Those who move forward with litigation are wise to prepare for a variety of defense strategies. One common defense against a copyright infringement claim is that the business or individual accused of a violation was unaware of the copyright. Registration results in a public record, which essentially defeats this claim.

Registration generally requires either going online to the U.S. Copyright Office and completing an application or using traditional paper forms. Fees are associated with the application and can vary from year to year.

What should I do to prepare for litigation if there is an infringement?

It is important to act promptly as there is a deadline to these claims. In general, those who believe they are the subject of copyright infringement must file a claim within three years of discovering the infringement.

Inventors and businesses can use the lawsuit to ask the court to issue a restraining order or injunction to prohibit further violations. Award damages may also allow for an award to cover attorney fees.