Benefits of Copyright Registration for Software
Although you do not need a copyright registration to claim copyright, registration sometimes speeds up resolution of copyright disputes. It lets the other side know you’re serious, it frightens some pirates and, because of the potential for an award of attorney fees and statutory damages (discussed below), it may help you attract a lawyer to take your case. Here’s a summary of some registration benefits:
- If you register your software program within five years of publication, you are presumed to be the owner of the software application and to have a valid copyright.
- If you register your software application prior to an infringement, or within three months of its publication (public distribution), you may be entitled to special payments known as “statutory damages” and to attorney fees from the person you sued.
- With a few exceptions, you can only file a copyright infringement lawsuit if you’ve registered your software application first.
- The filing fee for registration is currently $50 (less if you file electronically), and the registration process takes approximately three-six months. It’s possible to expedite the registration for an added fee, in which case it can be acquired within five working days. Expediting a copyright registration is not for convenience; it is only allowed in urgent cases—for example, when someone has ripped off your software program and you need to file a lawsuit quickly.
The U.S. Copyright Office. The U.S. Copyright Office website is your one-stop source for all things copyright. You can download copyright application forms or copyright circulars (special publications that explain copyright laws and rules in plain language) (You can also write to the agency: Copyright Office, Library of Congress, Washington, DC 20559-6000.)
Copyright Notice for Software
Although not required for copyright protection, it’s still advisable to place the familiar copyright notice (for example, Copyright © 2012 Bobby Jones) on each copy of your software application. Why? The notice may deter infringement and it may enable you to prove that any subsequent infringement was willful, therefore entitling you to more damages. The notice tells anyone who sees the work that the copyright is being claimed, who is claiming it and when the work was first published. There are no fixed rules for apps. You can place it on the opening splash screen, you can run it as a footer on certain screens, or you can include it on an “Information” or (i) page. You should also probably include it in your website postings. If there is any print material, include the notice on an inside page.
How to Register a Software Application Using Form CO Part 1: Completing Section 1.
How to Register a Software Application Using Form CO Part 2: Completing Sections 2 through 4.
How to Register a Software Application Using Form CO Part 3: Completing Sections 5 through 8 (And Mailing a Deposit)