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Copyright Overview

An overview of copyright and related issues.

Registering a Copyright

Though copyright is automatic upon creation in a fixed form, some creators want the advantages of formally registering their copyright with the U.S. Copyright Office. Advantages include: 

  • Registration establishes a public record of the copyright claim.
  • Before an infringement suit may be filed in court, registration is necessary for works of U. S. origin.
  • If made before or within five years of publication, registration will establish prima facie evidence in court of the validity of the copyright and of the facts stated in the certificate.
  • If registration is made within three months after publication of the work or prior to an infringement of the work, statutory damages and attorney’s fees will be available to the copyright owner in court actions. Otherwise, only an award of actual damages and profits is available to the copyright owner.
  • Registration allows the owner of the copyright to record the registration with the U. S. Customs Service for protection against the importation of infringing copies. For additional information, go to the U. S. Customs and Border Protection website at

 Those individuals may find the following resources helpful:

Help with Registration

The Copyright Office has a series of tutorials and FAQs to help you with the registration process.