NOTICE TO THE WORLD THAT THE WORK IS REGISTERED
Giving notice to the world that your creative work is registered with the U.S. Copyright Office is one of the most essential benefits of registration. This is because worldwide notice gives you the right to the argument in court (or even in cease-and-desist letters) that the defendant should have known about your particular work.
AVAILABILITY OF STATUTORY DAMAGES IN COURT
A significant reason to register your copyright is to have the right to obtain statutory damages, attorneys’ fees, and the costs of the lawsuit itself. Entitlement to statutory damages is not only helpful in court but also in any kind of pre-lawsuit negotiations. If the other side knows you have a right to statutory damages, the amount of money you may be able to negotiate in a settlement may increase significantly.
Statutory damages is a money recovery that you could be awarded without proving that you sustained any legal injuries. Not needing to establish a legal injury is crucially important because it is often challenging to prove you experienced any damages due to the infringement. A court can award statutory damages up to $150,000 per work. You will also have the right to request the recovery of attorneys’ fees.
PRIMA FACIE EVIDENCE
If you bring your case to court as a plaintiff, you will have the “burden” to prove ownership of a valid copyright. Without a registration, this can be somewhat difficult and sometimes costly to do. However, with registration, the law provides that the registration certificate is prima facie evidence of ownership. Prima facie means that you are assumed to have ownership until the defendant proves otherwise. Shifting the burden to the defendant to prove their case gives a substantial advantage to copyright registration owners.
PROTECTION THROUGH U.S. CUSTOMS AND BORDER PROTECTION (CBP)
Another advantage of copyright registration is that you have the right to record your registration with the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP). Once your registration is recorded, the CBP can stop goods from being imported at the border that could infringe your copyright. The CBP will seize suspected goods independently and contact you for more information if they suspect the goods are counterfeit or infringing. If you confirm the presence of counterfeiting, they may place the goods through a proceeding, which will eventually result in the destruction of the goods.
INTERNATIONAL PROTECTION OF YOUR COPYRIGHTED WORKS
There is no such thing as an “international copyright” that will protect your works throughout the world. However, many countries protect foreign works (including U.S. registered copyrights) under international copyright treaties. The U.S. is a member of several of these treaties.
The treaties touch areas all around the world. These treaties include the Berne Convention
for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works; the WIPO Copyright Treaty; the WIPO Performances and Phonograms Treaty; the Geneva Convention for the Protection of Producers of Phonograms Against Unauthorized Duplication of Their Phonograms; the Brussels Convention Relating to the Distribution of Program-Carrying Signals Transmitted by
Satellite, and so on. In all, there are about 200 countries that participate in some form of a treaty that may recognize your copyright. This can be effective in enforcing your copyright worldwide.
Having enforced our client’s copyrights in foreign countries, we can help you assess the rights in your copyright and advise you on how to enforce those rights if needed.