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?
If you are the sole owner and author of the entire dissertation or thesis, you may request to have ProQuest file for copyright on your behalf for a fee of $75.00. If your manuscript includes work(s) with multiple authors, you must file directly with the U.S. Copyright Office. For detailed information about copyright registration through ProQuest, please see ProQuest Copyright and multiple authors.
You may file for copyright directly with the U.S. Copyright Office, now or later. You may file for copyright electronically Please visit the U.S. Copyright Office website or click on the links below for more information about electronic filing.
- FAQs about eCO
- Circular 11 Using the Single Application
- eCO Registration Portal
- Help with Registration Steps
- Tutorial on Single Filing
- Copyright Registration Fee Schedule
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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