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Copyright Registration

Until 1978, you were required to register your work with the Library of Congress and to provide a copyright notice before your work was protected by copyright. Today, it is not necessary to publish a work or to register a work with the U.S. Copyright Office. Copyright protection subsists in an original work of authorship from the time it is created and fixed in tangible form.

Registration is not a requirement and can be made anytime within the life of the copyright. However, there are significant advantages to timely registration, including the following:

  • Registration creates a public record of your copyright claim and may make it easier for others to find you when they seek permission to use your work.
  • If made within the first five years of publication, registration becomes prima facie (legally sufficient to establish a fact or a case unless disproved) evidence of copyright ownership, validity, and the facts stated in the registration certificate.
  • Registration is required to file an infringement suit in a court.
  • Registration within 3 months of first publication or prior to any infringement will make statutory damages and attorney's fees available to the copyright owner in an infringement action.

Content in this page was used or adapted with permission from one or more institutions. Please see acknowledgements.

Information in this page was reviewed and approved by legal counsel. Please see disclaimer. Review date: October 2006.
Related Links:

How to Register a Copyright (U.S. Copyright Office)

Search Copyright Records

Using Copyright Notices in your work

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