It is common knowledge that copyright on a copyrightable work belongs to creators from the moment they create it. And life is hectic and time valuable for the self-publisher. We may be working on an ebook, putting out a newsletter, hosting a weekly blog or advancing our career in music or the arts by showcasing our talents on our website. If our copyright is protected without registration, why bother? Time and expense is required for this activity, and both these items are very valuable to most of us today.
Registration could save you time and money and help you maintain control of our work.
Infringement and/or plagiarism are common activities today. In most cases, it’s better for us self-publishers to be proactive as well as reactive when it comes to protecting our copyrights.
If we register our works’ copyright within three months of their publication and we later win a lawsuit against a copyright infringer, we will be entitled to what’s called statutory damages. If we have not registered within this timeframe and win an infringement lawsuit, we will likely be eligible only for any actual damages we can prove. And actual damages are oftentimes difficult to quantify and to prove. Statutory damages awarded are much higher than actual damages in most cases. (They can sometimes total $150,000 per work infringed.) So if we really value our work online and off, we may wish to register it in a timely manner.
In order to file a lawsuit in federal court, copyright registration with the federal government is required. Registration can be completed online. The cost is minimal in many cases, considering the protection it gives your work: $35 if you register online. See the fees schedule here.
Where to register?
As self-publishers today, we must know about and prepare for the dangers as well as the possibilities in publishing. A recent study by done by Envisional and commissioned by NBCUniversal found that 23.8% of Internet traffic involves content theft. As we work to create and publish in that kind of environment, can we afford not to take the time and effort needed to at least consider registering copyright in our works?
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