Should You File for a Copyright?

A common question we get from a lot of clients is whether it’s worth registering a copyright, and the short answer to that is: absolutely. Consider the scenario where you create an amazing movie, you’re ready for distribution, and all of a sudden your computer’s hacked and the movie’s stolen. And now it’s out there, someone’s selling it, someone’s monetizing it, and you spent the last three years developing it.

If you don’t have a copyright registration, now the only thing you can do is go after this person and try to prove actual damages, because that’s all you’re going to be entitled to: actual damages of what you would have made off that movie. Difficult to prove and often very costly.

If you had registered that copyright earlier, if someone stole it, you would have statutory damages. You could get $750 to $15,000 for the initial infraction, and actually three to four or five times that if it’s intentional.

Also, you have the ability to recover attorney’s fees. All the expenses that the attorney put into that lawsuit, and anything you paid even to the attorney as well — now the other side actually has to pay for that. They have to pay for your attorney’s fees on top of theirs. Attorney’s fees can get very expensive in copyright lawsuits, so this is something that is definitely advantageous.

The last thing to think about is also monetizing your copyright. With a copyright registration, it’s much easier to monetize because you have a clear ownership of that copyright and now you can license it, or even maybe sell it to other people and make money off your work.

So, the three advantages of having a copyright registration are 1. Statutory damages, 2. You have the right to collect attorney’s fees in the event that you win the lawsuit, and 3. You could actually monetize your copyright much easier with the copyright registration.

So, when it comes to the question of whether to register your copyright or not, we always say: YES!

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