Registering Copyrights: Why and How

May 27, 2006

When you put pen to paper and write an original song, you have created and acquired a copyright. Registering that copyright, however, has several added benefits:

1) Registration creates a public record of your claim of copyright.

2) Registration is required before suing someone for copyright infringement in court.

3) If you register the song within five years of publication, that registration will serve as evidence of the validity of your copyright and the facts on your registration certificate.

4) Registration allows the copyright owner to sign up with U.S. Customs for protection against importation of pirated copies of your music.

5) Perhaps most importantly, if you register within three months of publication or prior to infringement of your song(s), statutory damages and attorneys’ fees will be available in a court action. If you have a claim of copyright infringement, one of the first questions your lawyer will ask is when you registered your copyright. The answer can have substantial monetary implications.

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