The pressure to cut production costs for media works is larger than ever. One expense that should not be slashed, however, is the expense of registering a copyright in the work soon after it is created — whether that work is a written script, motion picture, a television episode, a commercial or a song. Considering that the standard Copyright Office filing fee for registration is between $35 (if filing electronically) and $45 (if filing the old fashion way on paper, which many still do), registration arguably provides a substantial dollar- to-dollar return on investment.

In this economic environment, is it really necessary to spend the time and money to register soon after a work is published? It’s a fair question. The U.S. Copyright Act of 1976 (as amended) does not require express registration to secure a copyright in a work. The simple act of fixing the work in any tangible medium of expression is all that is required. You can even use the “(c)” symbol without formally registering a copyright. But these statutory perks do little to protect the intrinsic value of the work itself.

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Authored By:

Matthew W. Clanton

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