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LegalCornerTM - Copyright F.A.Q.'s

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Q.What are the benefits to registering a copyright?

A.Although copyright protection is immediate and automatic for any original work fixed in a tangible medium of expression, failure to register the copyright with the United States Copyright Office may hinder the copyright owner's ability to sue and to collect statutory damages.

First, the copyright owner must register the work with the United States Copyright Office before bringing a lawsuit for copyright infringement.

Second, if the copyright owner registers the work within three months from the date of first publication, or at least before any infringement occurs, the copyright owner may collect statutory damages from the infringer. Failure to register within this time frame means the court may only award the copyright owner actual damages, which depending upon the circumstances, may be nominal or difficult to prove.

Third, statutory damages require that the infirnger pay the copyright holder a minimum of $750 per infringement and a maximum of $30,000 per infringement as the court considers just. In addition, where a court finds that the infringement was willfully done, the court may increase the award of statutory damages to a maximum of $150,000. Finally, even if the court finds the infringer acted 'innocently' the court may only reduce the damages to a sum of not less than $200.

Remember if the copyright owner fails to register his or her copyright with the United States Copyright Office none of these statutory damages are available.

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Copyright 1999-2023 Melissa C. Marsh. All Rights Reserved. All Information on this website is subject to a Disclaimer and Use Agreement. This information is provided as general information only and should not be construed as legal advice. We advise you to seek the advice of competent legal counsel to address your own specific questions, facts and circumstances.