By Johanna Hyman
Since copyright protection is automatic from the moment you create your work, registration is not required. However, it is common knowledge that a copyright holder cannot bring an infringement action under the Copyright Act without first having filed an application or obtaining a registration. A lesser-known fact is that if you fail to register your work within 3 months of creation or prior to someone infringing your work, the statutory damages (popular amongst artists) are off the table.
To be eligible for an award of statutory damages and attorneys’ fees in a copyright infringement case, you must register your copyrighted work before infringement commences, or, if the work is published, within 3 months of publication. Waiting to register your copyright until someone begins infringing will allow you to bring your infringement suit but will preclude you from obtaining statutory damages and recovering your attorneys’ fees.
Statutory damages are often helpful for copyright owners because it is difficult to calculate and prove actual damages or lost profits. Statutory damages are awarded in the Court’s discretion, but can range from $750 per work up to $150,000 per work for those claimants who can show willful infringement.
I have filed numerous copyright applications on behalf of our firm’s clients. It is a painless process and inexpensive given the protections it avails you of. It is critical to spend the $55 cost and an affordable flat fee on your copyright application now so if you become the victim of infringement you can seek all available remedies provided for by the Copyright Act. Contact me or Brett today to get your copyright application submitted.
 The circuits are currently split on whether an application is sufficient or whether a registration is required. On June 28, 2018 the United States Supreme Court decided they will end the circuit split by hearing the case Fourth Estate Public Benefit Corp. v. Wall-Street.com LLC.