Copyright protection is automatic upon fixation of a work. This means that as soon as you write your song on paper or record your tune on a CD, the work is protected by copyright without any further formalities. But, the copyright formalities of registration and notice confer important advantages. Therefore, it is very important that you are familiar with copyright formalities.
Registration can be made at any time during the copyright term by depositing one or two copies of the work, an application and fees with the copyright office. More information about registration is available at the copyright office website at www.copyright.gov.
Registration confers valuable benefits on the copyright owner, including:
- A copyright owner cannot sue for infringement unless he has registered his work.
- If a work is registered within 5 years of its publication, the certificate of registration is considered proof of ownership of copyright.
- If a work is registered within 3 months of its publication, remedies for infringement available to the owner increase a great deal.
- Registration allows the public to identify the copyright owner. This allows people interested in using the work to approach the owner and obtain a license.
A copyright notice consists of the symbol ©, the name of the copyright owner and the year of first publication. For sound recordings instead of the symbol © the symbol ℗ is used. Notice has to be placed on a conspicuous place of the copy of the work.
Use of notice ceased to be mandatory as of March 1, 1989. Before this date, if a work was published without proper notice, and the mistake was not corrected within 5 years of publication, the copyright on the work would be lost.
Although not mandatory, a copyright notice is still very useful in letting people know about the copyright status of a work and the identity of the owner. This allows a person interested in using the work to contact the owner.