While registration of a copyright is optional to preserve rights, registration of a work of U.S. origin is mandatory prior to bringing a suit for infringement. Registration also establishes a public record of the copyrighted work, and, if made before publication or within five years after publication, is prima facie evidence of validity of the copyright and of the information contained on the registration certificate. Statutory damages and attorney’s fees are available to the copyright owner only if the copyright was registered within three months after publication or prior to infringement. Otherwise, the copyright owner can only collect actual damages and profits. The owner of a copyright registration can also record the registration with U. S. Customs to police against the importation of infringing copies.
Registration requires completing an appropriate form, paying the filing fee, and submitting a deposit copy. The effective date of the copyright registration is the date on which the Copyright Office receives all these required elements in acceptable form. Information included on the copyright registration form includes the name, birth date, domicile country, and citizenship of the author (although works can be registered anonymously or under a pseudonym, and birth date, citizenship, and domicile information is optional), name and address of the copyright claimant (owner), the creation date, the publication date, the title of the work, the type of work (i.e. visual work), the authorship claimed (i.e. 3-D sculpture), and a contact address for the claimant.
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