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What are the benefits of registering with the copyright office?

While an original work is protected even without registration, there are additional benefits to registering with the Copyright Office. As a general rule, registration is required before one can file suit to enforce the rights granted by the Copyright Act. So while a copyright holder who becomes aware of infringement could send the infringer a cease and desist letter, they could not follow that threat with a lawsuit. Thus, registration provides the copyright holder with the additional protection of the ability to file suit.

In addition, if a copyright holder has registered with the Copyright Office prior to when the infringement begins, the copyright holder is granted significant additional protections under the Copyright Act. Specifically, a copyright holder who has registered prior to the infringement is entitled to recover statutory damages and attorney's fees incurred in the litigation. The opportunity to pursue statutory damages relieves the copyright holder from the necessity of proving actual damages. Statutory damages are not less than $750 or more than $30,000, as the Court considers just. If the Court finds that the infringement was willful, it may increase the award of statutory damages to not more than $150,000. The possibility of recovering attorney's fees in the action is also a substantial benefit to a copyright holder.

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