The United States Copyright Application

In the document on this website Overview to Copyright Law, it was stated that it is not necessary to file a copyright application with the U.S. copyright office in order to have copyright protection of a work. While that statement is true, there are five good reasons to file a copyright application. So the most important word in the statement is “necessary” because although works do have copyright protection without the filing of  a copyright application, the extent of that protection is significantly increased by filing an application. Here are the five reasons why:

  1. A lawsuit may not be filed in U.S. court claiming copyright infringement until a copyright application for the work in question is received by the copyright office
  2. As long as you file the copyright application within three months of publishing the work, OR before the infringement occurs, your lawsuit against the defense can include a demand for your legal fees to be paid and statutory damages to be paid. On the other hand, if you file an application more than three months after you first published the work, AND the infringement occurs before you file the application, you could only sue for actual damages and lost profits;
  3. Filing a copyright application provides the best possible record (from a legal perspective) of your copyright. So while mailing yourself a copy of the work is a common practice and can’t hurt, doing so is not an official method to obtain a copyright.
  4. Having filed a copyright application will allow you to demand the termination of the importation into the United States of illegal copies of your copyrighted product.
  5. While the cost of a filing a trademark or patent is not only expensive but also quite difficult, filing a copyright application usually costs just $35 and is quite easy. Web Defense Systems is happy to assist our clients with the process of copyright applications, usually at no additional charge to clients who are already using us for our more advanced services.

Disclaimer: The purpose of our “Knowledge Base” documents is to explain the basics of the subject matter in question and to provide some rationale behind the actions that Web Defense Systems might take on behalf of our clients. We are not lawyers, and the preceding information should not be used in lieu of legal advice.