What are the benefits of registering a copyright?

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Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

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UPDATED: Jul 16, 2021

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Copyright registration, which is accomplished through a copyright application, is generally necessary before you can bring a lawsuit to enforce your copyright. Copyright registration within three months of the original publication date, or before infringement begins, allows you to claim “statutory” damages and attorney’s fees when enforcing your copyright. “Statutory” damages are fixed by the court as an alternative to actual damages and are often sought when the measure of actual damages is difficult to determine. A copyright application filed within five years from the date of first publication of the work gives rise to a presumption that the copyright is valid.

The ideal date to file a copyright application is just prior to publication. In the case of working with a publishing house, the publisher will typically send in your copyright application for you before they begin printing and will confirm copyright before releasing the book to the public. If you are self-publishing or the copyright is for online work, registration should be submitted prior to placing the information in public view. You should submit your copyright application before you place the content onto your website or blog.

Under current copyright law, you only need to register the blog once. After that, every entry added to the blog is considered copyrighted. In order to better establish your copyright to the material, do not delete any blog entries and always post a date of publication for each.

Another measure to take for copyright protection, aside from copyright registration, is posting a copyright notice on your work. If it is a blog, you can even create a pop-up box that users must click on before viewing your content. This ensures that anyone reading your published work has been put on notice that it is protected, copyrighted material. 

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