Why should I register my work if copyright protection is automatic?
Registration of your copyright with the U.S. Copyright Office is recommended for a number of reasons:
It enables you to file a lawsuit to enforce copyright in federal court: You must file an application for registration before you can sue someone for infringing your copyright, even if the infringement has already occurred.
It is evidence that your copyright is valid: Filing your registration within 5 years of publishing your work will help you in the event that you need to bring a copyright infringement lawsuit in court. Your registration will satisfy a basic level of proof for the court of the validity of your copyright. This does not mean that your claim of copyright ownership is guaranteed. However, instead of having to prove that you are the actual copyright owner, the other party will have to prove that you are not. While this may not seem like much of a distinction, you are in a stronger position in court if the presumption of copyright ownership is on your side.
It enables you to claim statutory damages and attorney’s fees: If you file your registration of copyright within 3 months of publishing your work, or at any time prior to an infringement, your registration allows you to potentially recover statutory damages and attorney’s fees. The statutory recovery provision may be of help because copyright owners – particularly individual creators – often find it difficult to calculate and prove exactly the extent to which an infringement has hurt them. When applicable, statutory damages for infringing uses of a work usually entitle you to a pre-determined amount of damages.
It creates a public record: Registration is considered solid notice to the world of your copyright claim. It is not limited to those who see your work with a copyright notice attached. Among other things, this helps people who wish to license your work to ascertain the status of your work and to find you.
For more information, see the Benefits of Registration.