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Copyright Law Part II: Copyright Registration

Posted by Isabel Fox | Feb 28, 2023 | 0 Comments

Copyright registration is not mandatory to protect your intellectual property (IP). A copyright is automatically placed upon the creation of any creative work. However, to best protect your IP, we recommend registering a copyright. The benefits of copyright registration are many, and the process does not have to be complicated with the help of an IP professional guiding and advising you.

Benefits of Copyright Registration

One of the benefits of copyright registration is that registration establishes evidence that the work has an owner on record. In addition, copyright registration provides several benefits in court:

  • Should another party attempt to infringe on the copyright, the fact the copyright is registered allows the owner to bring a lawsuit against the infringing party.
    • Evidence of copyright registration can also result in a quick injunction if desired by the copyright owner.
  • Even when a copyright is not successfully registered, a rejected registration application may be used to bring a lawsuit against an infringing party. 
    • It should be noted that a registration application that has been filed, but not yet allowed or rejected, is not eligible to be the subject of a lawsuit.
  • Securing copyright registration after publication or before infringement occurs (known as “timely registration”) allows copyright owners to seek statutory damages and attorney's fees in an infringement case.

Another benefit of copyright registration is that owners of registered copyrights are eligible to participate in the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) program preventing the importation of goods that infringe the registered copyright(s).

Though copyright registration is not mandatory for some level of IP protection, registration avails copyright owners of several benefits and increases the level of IP protection, especially protection from copyright infringement. We strongly encourage you to seek registration of your copyright so that you can best protect your IP.

Copyright Registration Process

We recommend contacting an IP professional to prepare and file your registration application. Working with a professional can help ensure that the application is undertaken properly and timely so that you receive maximum benefits. Applications must include a sample of the work, and some works may be submitted electronically, while others must include a hard copy, which will not be returned. Keep in mind that copyright information is public record and time limits apply as to when the registration must be filed.

Different types of creative works must be filed with different application forms. The following works have their own application forms (note: all quotes are taken directly from the relevant form):

  • Literary Works: This form is intended for “published or unpublished nondramatic literary works, excluding periodicals or serial issues.” Examples include poetry, fiction, nonfiction, textbooks, computer programs, and directories.
  • Serial Works: As stated on the application form, “A serial is defined as a work issued or intended to be issued in successive parts bearing numerical or chronological designations and intended to be continued indefinitely.” Examples include newspapers and periodicals.
  • Visual Works: A visual works application is intended for “pictorial, graphic, or sculptural works” of visual art, including “two-dimensional and three-dimensional works of fine, graphic, and applied art; photographs; prints and art reproductions; and maps, globes, charts, technical drawings, diagrams, and models.”
  • Performing Arts: The performing arts category includes “works prepared for the purpose of being ‘performed' directly before an audience or indirectly ‘by means of any device or process.'” Examples include musical works, dramatic works, choreographic works, motion pictures, and other audiovisual works.
  • Sound Recording: The sound recording category is a bit more complicated, as only “works that result from the fixation of a series of musical, spoken, or other sounds” are considered “sound recordings.” The one exception to this definition is for “the audio portions of audiovisual works, such as a motion picture soundtrack,” which is “considered a part of the audiovisual work as a whole” (i.e., a performing arts work).

Copyright applicants can seek simultaneous registration across different categories. For example, registration applications can be filed under both the Performing Arts and Sound Recording categories for a work like a musical or play. Individual songs can also be copyrighted under both Performing Arts (for the musical composition of the music and lyrics) and Sound Recording (the actual recording of the song as performed).

Copyright registration can be a confusing process, especially when works may qualify for copyright protection under multiple categories. Working with an IP professional can reduce the confusion and make sure that you file your application correctly and in a timely manner.

How Gallium Law Can Help

At Gallium Law, our IP professionals handle all types of copyright matters and will help you understand the benefits of pursuing copyright registration for your original works. You may be a business or an individual; in either case, your original work should benefit you, not someone else who attempts to use it for their own benefit. Contact us today by either filling out the online form or contacting us at 651-256-9480 to schedule a Free and Confidential Consultation.

*The information provided in this article is not legal advice and should not be relied on as such. This article is meant for informational purposes only and is intended as a starting point in your search for answers to your legal questions. 

About the Author

Isabel Fox

Isabel Fox is a registered patent agent and has been with Gallium Law since 2018. Her practice largely revolves around utility and design patent prosecution; including conducting patent landscape searches, drafting patent applications, and responding to Office Actions issued by the USPTO...


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