You have to register your work with the federal government to protect your work
Not true! The moment you create your work and fix it in a "tangible medium of expression," your work is copyrighted. This means that the moment that you write down a poem, record a song, or shoot a film, whatever you just created is - BAM! - automatically copyrighted on the spot. How cool is that?
So why register your work with the federal government? Well, there are a few reasons:
- The ability to sue: You can't sue someone for infringing on your copyrighted work if you haven't registered your work with the federal government. You can register your copyright and then sue, but there are other perks if your work is copyrighted prior to the infringement.
- Statutory damages/attorney's fees: If you win and your work was copyrighted prior to the infringement, you will have the choice between asking for actual damages or statutory damages. Statutory damages can range anywhere between $200 to $150,000 per work infringed. Plaintiffs usually choose statutory damages because these awards are often more than what they can prove in actual damages suffered from the infringement. A successful plaintiff can also be reimbursed his or her attorney's fees.
- Proof: If you register your work within five years of its creation, that is prima facie evidence that it is your original work. This means that the court will believe that you created it unless the other side is able to persuade it otherwise.
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