Do I Need to Register My Work as Soon as I Create It?
Registration of Copyright is beneficial in a number of ways, which is why we always recommend registering your copyright as soon as you're able to. But is there a time limit?
Time Limits for Prima Facie and Statutory Damages
According to the United States Copyright Office registration can be made at any time within the life of the copyright. However, registration of copyright that occurs before publication, or within 5 years of publication, establishes prima facie evidence of the validity of the copyright and any facts stated in the certificate of registration. If you register your copyright prior to publication or within 3 months of publication, you are eligible to receive statutory damages for cases of copyright infringement. Otherwise, you have to prove the actual monetary damages in order to be awarded. Waiting to register your works can lead to lost revenue opportunities and general delays in the process of taking legal action for infringement, since you will need to register a claim with the Copyright Office before being able to file in court.
Here are the benefits of timely registration which the Copyright Office outlines in their Circular 1 "Copyright Basics"
"In addition to establishing a public record of a copyright claim, registration offers several other statutory advantages:
- Before an infringement suit may be filed in court, registration (or refusal) is necessary for U.S. works.
- Registration establishes prima facie evidence of the validity of the copyright and facts stated in the certificate when registration is made before or within five years of publication.
- When registration is made prior to infringement or within three months after publication of a work, a copyright owner is eligible for statutory damages, attorneys’ fees, and costs.
- Registration permits a copyright owner to establish a record with the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) for protection against the importation of infringing copies.
Registration can be made at any time within the life of the copyright. If you register before publication, you do not have to re-register when the work is published, although you can register the published edition, if desired."
Do I Need to Register My Copyright With the United States Copyright Office?
What Does Copyright Registration Service Cover?
How Long Does Copyright Protection Last?
copyright.gov - Copyright Basics
law.cornell.edu - Registration as Prerequisite to Certain Remedies for Infringement