Why You Should Register With The Copyright Office

Once you’ve mastered the basics of Copyright 101 it’s only natural to start thinking about registering your works with the U.S. Copyright Office and it’s even more enticing once you realize that registering copyrights with Cosynd is very simple. There are so many benefits to registering your works and doing so can pay off in big ways—especially when things go wrong. In this post, we’ll take a closer look at some of those benefits and see how they stack up against the myth of the “poor man’s” copyright.

First, let’s start with a quick refresher of your rights as a copyright owner.

Copyright exists the moment a work is created. Copyright owners have the exclusive right to perform the actions below and to authorize others to act on their behalf to:

  • Reproduce a work.
  • Create derivative works (e.g. a film adaptation of a book).
  • Distribute the work for sale, rental, lease or lending.
  • Perform/display the work publicly.

On top of your rights as a copyright owner, there are a number of benefits to registering your works with the U.S. Copyright Office:

  • You receive a certificate as physical proof of your registration.
  • There is a public record of your ownership.
  • Registration gives you the option to file an infringement suit, if necessary.
  • You may be eligible to collect statutory damages and attorney’s fees from litigation.
  • Registration is considered factual evidence in a court of law if filed within 5 years of publication.
  • You can record the registration with the U.S. Customs Service for protection against the importation of infringing copies of your work.
  • Registering your works entitles you to collect damages at the basic statutory level (between $750 and $30,000 per work) at the court’s discretion. Damages may increase to $150,000 per work if the infringement was determined to be deliberate. Additionally, you may also be awarded attorney’s fees as well.

“Poor man’s” copyright offers none of the above.

“Poor man’s” copyright is the act of mailing yourself a copy of your work to document when it was created. There is no provision in copyright law regarding “poor man’s” copyright and it is not a substitute for registering your works with the U.S. Copyright Office.

Copyright owners that rely on “poor man’s” copyright are not granted the same protections and rights of owners that registered with the Copyright Office. The difference is critical, particularly when it comes to legal proceedings (when things go wrong, like they sometimes do). Copyright owners that have registered may be eligible to collect a higher sum from legal law suits compared to copyright owners that have not registered. If you are only relying on “poor man’s copyright,” you can only collect actual damages — even if you win your suit, you could end up owing more in legal fees than the sum you won!

You can use Cosynd to register your works with the U.S. Copyright Office.

In most cases, existing Cosynd users can complete their application in minutes. Cosynd will:

  • Automatically determine which application to file on your behalf.
  • Instantly determine the correct work type category for your registrations.
  • Transfer existing work, authorship, and claimant information to your application (existing Cosynd users only).
  • File the actual application on your behalf.

If you are registering on your own, here are a few registration tips:

  • Read the Copyright Office’s guidelines carefully to determine which application you should use. At the time of posting this, registration costs $35 or $55 per application.
  • Select the correct category of work type for your registration. You may need to research which work type is most applicable to your work. For example, song registrations can fall under different categories.
  • Multiple works can be submitted on a single application if the authorship for each work is the same and belongs to a collection.
  • Provide as much detailed information as possible for authors, claimants, and transfers of ownership (if applicable).
  • Be prepared — this can be a time consuming process if you do not have all of the required information prepared before you begin!

Good luck, creators!