Why Waiting Too Long to Register Your Copyright Is a Big Mistake – by Liani Kotcher…

on Jane Friedman:

Under the current Copyright Act of 1976 and its subsequent amendments, your creative works are protected by US copyright law as soon as they are put in a tangible medium, so long as they meet all the other elements required for copyright protection (i.e., they must also be original and must contain at least some level of minimal creativity).

For works created prior to 1978 that fall under older copyright acts there are other requirements like notice and registration, but currently there is nothing else you need to do and no other formalities you must adhere to in order for your post-1978 work to be copyrighted.

However, this does not make registration obsolete. In fact, far from it. Though registration with the Copyright Office is no longer required for protection, there are still a multitude of reasons why registration is important, including:

  • Registration is evidence of ownership.
  • You’ll absolutely want to register your work if you ever want to consider licensing it.
  • You must register your work to initiate an infringement lawsuit if someone steals your work and you want to stop them from using it.

With respect to the last bullet point, litigation is expensive because the majority of copyright cases take place in federal court (with very few exceptions), which requires a certain level of legal expertise that quickly racks up attorney fees and court costs. This often makes full-blown litigation cost-prohibitive for everyone except high-earning authors, big publishers, and media corporations. That said, even if you don’t think you (or your publisher) have the funds to actively pursue litigation, there are affordable ways to enforce your copyright that still require registration, making this a must-do action item to protect your work.

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