Copyright in an original work of authorship arises as soon as the work is created.  This occurs when the work is fixed in a copy or phonorecord for the first time.  These are material objects from which a work can be seen (copies) or heard (phonorecords).   Currently the term of a copyright is the life of the author plus an additional seventy years.

A copyright may be registered at the U.S. Copyright Office by filing certain forms and paying a nominal fee.  Registration can be made at any point in the life of a copyright. Although entirely voluntary, registration does have many benefits, including:

  • establishing a public record of the copyright claim;
  • allowing for access to federal courts for copyright infringement lawsuits;
  • establishing prima facie evidence of the validity of the copyright and the facts in the certificate if certain filing deadlines are met;
  • allowing for the collection of statutory damages and attorney’s fees for infringement of the work if certain filing deadlines are met; and
  • allowing the copyright owner to record the registration with U.S. Customs for protection against importation of infringing copies.

Renner Otto’s copyright attorneys will work closely with you to determine how best to protect your works of authorship and to help you execute your protection plan.  At the early stages, we can assist in determining ownership interests of particular works, as well as securing assignments of rights.  And once a work is complete, we can help you decide which types of copyrights might work best for your work, and then register your works at the U.S. Copyright Office.