Why U. S. Basic Copyright Is Almost Useless

Standard disclaimer:

I am not an attorney and any comments I post are not intended, nor should they be construed, as legal advice. If you need legal advice, please consult a legal expert who is familiar with the area of legal expertise you need.

For copyright legal advice, find a qualified copyright attorney or law firm.

There are two types of copyright in the U. S. Basic copyright which applies to any creative work that you create; there are exceptions for public domain things which may apply and full, or registered, copyright. Basic copyright is free, but registered copyright costs. The below is only about U. S. copyright as other countries’ laws on basic copyright can vary significantly. For registered copyright, you get the full benefits listed below if you register a full copyright within three (3) months of publication. You will lose some of the benefits if you don’t register within this time frame and you lose some other benefits if you wait more than five (5) years. Also, with basic copyright, your ability to sue is limited and your ability to collect certain damages may apply.

Here’s why U. S. basic copyright is almost useless. That’s not to say that an attorney or law firm won’t go after you for basic copyright violation for a book, photograph, or other item that is covered only with basic copyright. There are copyright attorneys that have no problem sending you a cease and desist letter with a request to pay X amount of money for violating a basic copyright that was never registered. In some cases, the attorney has a valid case against the copyright violator. It’s a lot harder to win this kind of basic copyright case, but it can be won. This is why you need to learn about copyright law. It is also why you need to register any basic copyright items you haven’t registered. There are specific rules for registering multiple works under one filing fee: https://www.copyright.gov/circs/circ34.pdf. It’s a long read and gives numerous examples of what can and can’t be filed as part of a multiple works filing.

Note: I am not saying you should violate basic copyright by any means. All it takes for the copyright holder to register it timely before or within three months of publication. Plus, they can still come after you if they take longer than the three months, but they won’t get as much from you.

I won’t get into “fair use” as that’s a whole post by itself. Read up on “fair use” before you try to claim it as most people who claim their use falls under “fair use” haven’t read the regulations. If they had, they wouldn’t be claiming “fair use” and wouldn’t be surprised when they get hit with a copyright infringement lawsuit.

According to the U. S. Copyright Office, https://www.copyright.gov/help/faq/faq-general.html,

Do I have to register with your office to be protected?

No. In general, registration is voluntary. Copyright exists from the moment the work is created. You will have to register, however, if you wish to bring a lawsuit for infringement of a U.S. work. See Circular 1, Copyright Basics, section “Copyright Registration.”*
Why should I register my work if copyright protection is automatic?

Registration is recommended for a number of reasons. Many choose to register their works because they wish to have the facts of their copyright on the public record and have a certificate of registration. Registered works may be eligible for statutory damages and attorney’s fees in successful litigation. Finally, if registration occurs within five years of publication, it is considered prima facie evidence in a court of law. See Circular 1, Copyright Basics, section “Copyright Registration” and Circular 38b, Highlights of Copyright Amendments Contained in the Uruguay Round Agreements Act (URAA), on non-U.S. works.
I’ve heard about a “poor man’s copyright.” What is it?

The practice of sending a copy of your own work to yourself is sometimes called a “poor man’s copyright.” There is no provision in the copyright law regarding any such type of protection, and it is not a substitute for registration.

Worth noting the Copyright Office makes it clear that “poor man’s copyright” has no provision in copyright law.

*Benefits of Registration (from the PDF link above):

Benefits of Registration Registration establishes a claim to copyright with the Copyright Office. An application for copyright registration can be filed by the author or owner of an exclusive right in a work, the owner of all exclusive rights, or an agent on behalf of an author or owner. An application contains three essential elements: a completed application form, a nonrefundable filing fee, and a nonreturnable deposit—that is, a copy or copies of the work being registered and “deposited” with the Copyright Office. A certificate of registration creates a public record of key facts relating to the authorship and owner-ship of the claimed work, including the title of the work, the author of the work, the name and address of the claimant or copyright owner, the year of creation, and information about whether the work is published, has been previously registered, or includes preexisting material. You can submit an application online through http://www.copyright.gov or on a paper application. For more information on registering a work with the Copyright Office, see Copyright Registration (Circular 2).

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 works of U.S. origin.

• 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)3 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 pub-lication, you do not have to re-register when the work is published, although you can register the published edition, if desired.

Points on why

• Before an infringement suit may be filed in court, registration (or refusal) is necessary for works of U.S. origin.

To sue for copyright infringement in the U. S., you have to register the copyright. Basic copyright doesn’t allow you to sue. There is a cost to register the copyright, but it’s worth it.

• 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.

Self-explanatory.

• 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.

Good reason to file within three (3) months as an attorney is less likely to take your copyright infringement case if they can’t include the above items.

• Registration permits a copyright owner to establish a record with the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP)3 for protection against the importation of infringing copies.Registration can be made at any time within the life of the copyright.

 

 

 

About ICT Genealogist

Originally from Gulfport, Mississippi. Live in Wichita, Kansas now. Let's collaborateDealspotr.com
This entry was posted in Author, Books, Copyright and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.