A copyright is a form of intellectual property that protects original works or art including literary, dramatic, musical, and artistic works, such as poetry, novels, movies, songs, computer software, and architecture and some designs. Copyright protection exists from the moment a work is created in a fixed, tangible form of expression. However, registering a copyright with United States Copyright office has several advantages.
The default rule in the United States is that each party bears their own litigation costs regardless of the outcome. However, the Copyright Act has a fee shifting provision. The fee shifting provision enables prevailing plaintiffs to recover attorney’s fees and costs for bringing a lawsuit against an infringer of a design or piece of artwork (the work) and statutory damages from the infringer if the work is timely registered. Timely registration will be gained if you register at any time before the work has been infringed, or if the work was registered within three months after the work was first published or distributed to the public. Statutory damages for each infringement can be between $750.00 to $30,000.00 per work and up to $150,000.00 if the infringement was willful. Actual damages and infringer profits can be difficult to prove due to the inherent intangibility of copyrights. Therefore, statutory damages may be helpful in leveraging a quick and effective settlement against infringers of your work. Also, being entitled to statutory damages and attorney’s fees may make it easier to hire an attorney who is willing to take your case on a contingency basis.
However, if your copyright is not properly filed, it may be held invalid and unenforceable. Copyright registration is quick and inexpensive when applied for correctly. For more information contact Fahey Business and Intellectual Property law.
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