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Top 10 Reasons You Should Register Your Copyright

You are a small business owner, entrepreneur, or startup company. You realize you have intellectual property now. You may ask yourself, why is intellectual property protection important? How can the U.S. Copyright Office help me? Is copyright protection essential? Well, look no further! FindLaw has the top 10 reasons why you should federally register your copyright.

Copyright Protection Basics

Copyright is a type of intellectual property protection granted to creators of "original works of authorship" that are "fixed in a tangible medium."

Copyright protects the following categories of works:

  • Literary works
  • Musical works
  • Sound recordings
  • Visual arts
  • Computer software
  • Motion pictures
  • Architectural works
  • Dramatic works

Many businesses create copyrightable material, even if it isn't their primary focus.

Why Small Businesses Should Register Their Copyrights

Below are FindLaw's top ten reasons to claim and register your copyright:

1. Exclusive Rights - A copyright gives you the exclusive right to reproduce or copy the work. You can also change its form, like creating a sequel, revising or updating the work.

2. Legal Protection - Registering a copyright with the United States Copyright Office establishes national ownership and offers advantages. Once you have completed the copyright registration and are a copyright owner, you have legal evidence of your ownership. This evidence makes enforcing your copyright easier.

3. Statutory Damages - Copyright registration enables you to claim statutory damages in copyright infringement cases. This means monetary damages are available in an infringement suit, even if you can't prove how much money you lost because of the infringement. If you succeed, the infringer will have to pay your attorney fees.

4. Protection Against Unauthorized Derivatives - Only you can perform or display the work publicly. Everyone else has to ask you first. You're the only person who can distribute the work for commercial purposes.

5. Commercial Benefits - Registered copyrights can be sold, licensed, or used as collateral loans. You can sell your right of control over the copyrighted work. So when you write your next big thriller, you can sell the movie rights to it but keep the right to create a sequel. These opportunities create potential income streams.

6. Public Notice - Copyright registration provides a public record that informs the world that you own the work and all the ownership rights.

7. Global Protection - Registration protects your rights in foreign countries that have intellectual property treaties with the United States.

8. Long-Term Protection - Copyright protection can last the creator's lifetime plus 70 years. This long-term protection ensures that creators, their heirs, and successors can control the works for an extended period. 

9. Credibility and Artistic Integrity - Registering your copyright will enhance your professional credibility and improve marketability. Copyright registration allows you to keep control over the use of the work moving forward. It can ensure that the following projects based on your work align with your artistic vision.

10. Streamlined Application - With the help of an attorney, the copyright registration process is easy! The copyright online registration process involves submitting a completed application form through the Electronic Copyright Office (ECO) system. Online registration has faster processing times than mail.

Other Intellectual Property Rights Small Businesses Should Consider

As a small business, you might want to protect your business name, brand name, or company name. Trademark registration protects names. Service mark registrations protect names for services. The trademark application process goes through the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). Visit FindLaw's Trademark Law section to learn more about getting a registered trademark and your trademark rights.

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office also handles patent applications. A patent covers inventions that are novel, useful, and non-obvious. There are three types of patents: utility patents, design patents, and plant patents.

Get Legal Advice from an Intellectual Property Attorney

Copyright law is complex. If you are a small business owner and entrepreneur looking to begin the copyright registration process with the U.S. Copyright Office, contact an intellectual property attorney.

Visit FindLaw's Copyrights section to learn more about copyrights.

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Contact a qualified business attorney to help you identify how to best protect your business' intellectual property.

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