The Dos and Don’ts of Copyright Registration

Businesses of any size must protect their assets, both financial and creative, and copyrights and trademarks are some of the most reliable ways to ensure a business is not exploited. These useful tools are essential for any company, but the process of registering a copyright may feel intimidating. Read below to learn about the dos and don’ts of copyright registration and how the Dallas law firm of Ritter Spencer Cheng PLLC can help.

Do: Understand that a copyright is automatic.

Many are unaware that a copyright is actually automatic. Any creative work that has been recorded, from published websites to a new book, automatically belongs to the creator, whether the asset has been registered or not. However, individuals and businesses can only protect the commercial value of the asset if there is tangible proof that they created the work.

Don’t: Forget to register your copyright.

A copyright may be automatic, but the legal system requires a certain amount of evidence if that copyrighted material is being used by someone other than the rightful owner. Taking the time to register a copyright gives companies and individuals the evidence they need to protect creative works and potentially receive financial compensation if any entity attempts to infringe upon that asset.

Do: Research the copyright registration process.

Because each work is unique, businesses and individuals must ensure they register their assets properly. At first glance, the copyright registration process may feel overwhelming and confusing for those who have never recorded a work before. The U.S. Copyright Office answers some of the most frequently asked questions related to the registration process, but businesses and individuals may want to do some additional research or speak with an expert so they can complete the process without mistakes. 

Don’t: Hesitate to reach out to a copyright attorney if you are confused.

Although there are some resources available to help organizations through copyright registration, an experienced copyright attorney can be sure your work is properly registered. A copyright attorney knows the ins and outs of the registration process and can help individuals and businesses complete all necessary steps efficiently and without errors. Even if an individual or company feels like they are going through the process correctly, a copyright attorney can help address any confusion so you don’t waste time and money repeating the process due to a mistake.

Do: Ensure your copyrighted material is tangible and fixed.

For a federal copyright to be valid, the material must be tangible and fixed when applying for registration. This simply means that the work must be produced in a tangible medium of expression that can be experienced or reproduced by another person. The fixation required by the Copyright Act can include anything from printing a novel to saving an original graphic on a computer hard drive.

Don’t: Allow others to profit off your copyrighted works.

The process of registering a copyright ensures creative and intellectual works cannot be used as a source of profit by anyone other than the legal owner. A cease and desist letter is commonly used to notify individuals or businesses about copyright infringement and can often prove very effective at stopping infringement. If someone is using your copyright without permission or you have been accused of copyright infringement, a copyright attorney can guide your organization through the process and negotiate with all parties to ensure a favorable outcome.
Although copyright registration may seem confusing, an experienced copyright attorney can guide your business through the registration process to ensure your work is protected. The team at Ritter Spencer Cheng PLLC will work with your company to correctly register for a copyright, address necessary cease and desist letters, and/or organize any potential licensing agreements. Learn about the benefits and challenges associated with copyright registration and contact our team today.