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Until 1978, you were required to register your work with the Library of Congress and to provide a copyright notice before your work was protected by copyright. Today, it is not necessary to publish a work or to register a work with the U.S. Copyright Office. Copyright protection subsists in an original work of authorship from the time it is created and fixed in tangible form.
Registration is not a requirement and can be made anytime within the life of the copyright. However, there are significant advantages to timely registration, including the following:
- Registration creates a public record of your copyright claim and may make it easier for others to find you when they seek permission to use your work.
- If made within the first five years of publication, registration becomes prima facie (legally sufficient to establish a fact or a case unless disproved) evidence of copyright ownership, validity, and the facts stated in the registration certificate.
- Registration is required to file an infringement suit in a court.
- Registration within 3 months of first publication or prior to any infringement will make statutory damages and attorney's fees available to the copyright owner in an infringement action.