Should you register your copyright?
As the author of a dissertation, you own the copyright to your work by virtue of being its author. Most dissertation authors will not find themselves in a situation in which someone infringes on or violates the copyright by using it without properly crediting or producing it as if it were someone else’s work. If you are concerned that this might happen, however, it might be worthwhile to pay the extra fee required in order to register your copyright. Here is what registering the copyright accomplishes:
1. It is a prerequisite for filing an infringement action against someone in court and serves as prima facie evidence of copyright validity.
2. A copyright owner can recover statutory damages and attorneys’ fees only if the work is registered prior to infringement or within three months of publication.
3. If the infringement occurred prior to registration, the copyright owner can still file an action but is limited to actual damages and injunctive relief (the ability to stop the infringement). You could register the copyright after you find out about an infringement, in other words, and still take some action against the violator.
How do I register for copyright?
As part of the ETD submission process in the ETD Administrator, you may request to have ProQuest file for copyright on the your behalf for a fee of $55.00. Please consult the following ProQuest document for more information about this service.
Alternatively, you may file for copyright yourself directly with the U.S. Copyright Office, now or later. All you have to do is complete a short form, and mail it, along with two copies of the work and the fee, to the U.S. Copyright Office. Under some circumstances you may file for copyright electronically. Please visit the U.S. Copyright Office website for more information about electronic filing.
- FAQs about eCO
- Help with Registration Steps
- Questions About Single Applications
- Tutorial on Single Filing
- eCO Registration Portal
Click here for a tutorial on electronic copyright registration.
As this suggests, registering the copyright might not be necessary in many cases. However, if your work is something that has the potential to make money (e.g., book royalties), it is probably wise to register the copyright.
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