Arthur R. Lehman, L.L.C.

Three legal reasons to register a copyright

When someone creates an original work, they more than likely do not wish to see another party profit from it. While this expectation alone is a logical reason to register a copyright, protecting one's work can come with additional legal benefits.

Along with peace of mind, copyright registration offers specific pathways to legal action if someone uses a protected work without permission. Considering the relatively low cost of obtaining a copyright, it's often a prudent maneuver to make. Here are three practical reasons to register a copyright:

1. The ability to sue for copyright infringement

Perhaps the most important reason to consider copyright registration is that it allows an individual to sue for infringement. In fact, if someone feels that their work has been stolen, they cannot bring an infringement lawsuit in the U.S. without a registered copyright.

2. Temporary injunction rights and "cease and desist" letters

If an individual sees their work used in a way that they did not authorize, a copyright allows them to put an immediate -- if temporary -- stop to it. So long as the copyright registration happened within five years of the work's creation, the registrant can obtain a temporary injunction to stop the other party from using it, pending further action.

Having a work protected by a copyright also allows its holder to issue a "cease and desist" letter. This letter will inform the offending party that they are using a copyrighted work without permission, and it may include a warning of additional legal action.

3. The possibility of being awarded more money in a lawsuit

Should a party suspect infringement to the point that they take the matter to court, when they obtained the registration could be crucial. If a copyright registration occurs within three months of a work's creation, that individual could sue for a greater award. If the registration happens after that point, they may not be eligible for statutory damages. In any event, someone who feels that they've been a victim of copyright infringement could benefit from consulting with an attorney who is experienced in that area.

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