Copyright Registration or OUT You Go!
Do you own a valid copyright in original and tangible works of art or authorship? Have you registered your valuable copyrightable work with the US Copyright Office? If not, I would suggest that you do so immediately, if not sooner. Here’s why:
The Copyright Act §411 (a) provides that copyright registration is a precondition to suing for copyright infringement. Jurisdictions interpret that law differently. For example, if you live in the 11th Circuit (Alabama, Georgia, Florida) or in the 10th Circuit (Colorado, New Mexico, Utah, Wyoming, Kansas, Oklahoma), then you must have a valid registration in hand before filing a lawsuit. If you live in the 9th Circuit (California, Nevada, Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Arizona, Montana, Hawaii, Alaska, Guam) or in the 5th Circuit (Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi), then you must have at least filed a valid application.
A recent federal court decision underscores the importance of copyright registration before you file a lawsuit.
On May 18, 2017, the Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit held in favor of the copyright infringer, despite evidence of the infringer’s wrongdoing. Why? Because the copyright owner/plaintiff had not registered its articles before filing a law suit, and the law in Florida required that the plaintiff do so.
Some folks might say, that is not fair. I say, this is why it’s important to get accurate and competent legal advice. The plaintiff likely had no legal representation, and if they did, they received poor counsel. But more than likely there was no lawyer in the mix, instead plaintiff operated on information it read on the internet from folks who don’t really know. Either way, plaintiff received poor or inadequate information.
What does that mean for you? Protect your work now! And if you are thinking of suing someone, make sure you have a registration. If time is of the essence and you want to sue now, then file for expedited service. It will cost you $800+, but that’s less than the cost of losing a lawsuit on a procedural issue, and possibly had to pay attorney’s fees.
- Register your original creative content as soon as it’s created.
- Get accurate legal information.
I’m attorney Francine Ward working hard to help you protect what’s yours. Join my conversation on my Facebook Law Page, Twitter Law Page, Google+, or in a LinkedIn discussion group. Also, if you are interested in having me write about certain topic, let me know.