Is my copyright valid and enforceable in other countries?
There is no such thing as an international copyright protection that automatically protects your copyrighted work throughout the world. Whether and the extent a copyright of a U.S. citizen will be protected in a particular country depends on the national laws of that country and whether the United States has copyright relations with that country. Fortunately, the United States has copyright agreements in place with most countries that require each country to honor the other country’s citizens' copyrights. The Copyright Office publishes a circular that provides more information.
If an American citizen living in Canada is also a permanent resident or dual citizen of Canada, should she file for a copyright registration in Canada or the United States?
To obtain the statutory benefits afforded by U.S. copyright law, such as the ability to claim statutory damages and attorney’s fees in an infringement action, and the evidentiary presumption of validity, the work must be registered with the U.S. Copyright Office. The U.S. Copyright Office is an office of record and cannot provide legal advice. As such, we cannot advise you regarding the significance (if any) of a U.S. copyright registration under Canadian law, or how to obtain a copyright registration under the laws of Canada, or any other country. For more information on international copyright issues, please visit the international page of our website at: http://copyright.gov/international-issues/.
Do you have to be an American citizen to be able to register works with the Copyright Office?
No. Foreign authors may register their works with the U.S. Copyright Office in order to obtain the statutory benefits of registration in the United States. Foreign authors should pay attention to the deposit requirements. If the work was first published in the United States, the applicant may need to submit two copies of the best edition of the work, along with the application and fee. If the work was first published outside of the United States, only one copy is required for deposit. To register an unpublished foreign work, the applicant need only submit one complete copy of the work containing all of the authorship claimed on the application. For more information on the deposit requirements for foreign works, please see Compendium (Third) § 1503.
If a foreign creator registered her work with her home country, does she receive protection in the United States?
The United States is a member of the Berne Convention and honors the copyright in works of authors from all member countries, whether the work has been registered in that foreign country or not. A foreign author may bring a copyright infringement action in a U.S. district court without registering his or her work with the U.S. Copyright Office. However, a foreign author must register his or her work with the U.S. Copyright Office in order to obtain certain statutory benefits that are provided under the 1976 Copyright Act, such as the presumption of validity and the ability to claim statutory damages and attorney’s fees in an infringement action.