Copyrights – Top 10 Questions
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Questions 7 – 9
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Question 7 – Can I Transfer My Copyright To Others?

Yes. You can freely transfer your copyright ownership to others in any way you choose.

A key concept to understand in copyright law is that the copyright owner owns many different rights in the copyright. The copyright owner owns the rights to sell, license, lease, transfer, make derivative works (i.e. make different works off of the original copyrighted work), etc. In other words, a copyright owner owns what many call a bundle of rights in the copyrighted work.

Why does all this matter? Because a copyright owner could license certain rights to one person and other rights to another person. For example, assume Henry owns the copyright to a popular book. Henry could freely license different parts of the material in his book to different people. This is because Henry, as a copyright owner, owns many different rights in the copyrighted material.

Question 8 – What is the Difference Between Copyright Creation and Copyright Registration?

Copyright "creation" occurs when the work is actually made. Copyright "registration" is when the copyright owner registers the work with the United States Patent and Trademark office for federal copyright protection. For example, assume Kelly paints a magnificent portrait of her mom on a canvas. At that moment the painting is made, Kelly automatically owns the copyright to it (assuming she did not create the painting for her employer, in which case her employer would own the painting as a work made for hire).

Next, if Kelly wants to give herself the greatest legal protection she can in the painting, she should "register" the copyright of the painting with the United States Patent and Trademark Office. As you can see, creation is different than registration. But why register the painting if she already owns the copyright? Please read Question 9 below.

Question 9 – What Are the Benefits of Copyright Registration?

There are many benefits to copyright registration (over just claiming copyright ownership), including:
  • Creates a federal record and notice to all to refrain from copyright infringement
  • Copyright infringement lawsuits cannot be filed in federal court until the copyright is registered with the United States Patent and Trademark Office
  • Copyright registration creates prima facie evidence (i.e. basic evidence to prove a case) that the registered copyright owner is the true owner of the work, if registration occurs within 5 years of publication of the work. In other words, if you successfully register your copyrighted work others would have the burden in court to show that you are not the true owner.
  • Protects the owner’s interest in the copyright in certain other countries where the United States has created treaties on copyright protection.
  • The ability to collect attorneys’ fees and statutory damages for copyright infringement of the work, as long as the registration is made within 3 months after publication of the work OR prior to infringement of the work. In this respect, it literally pays to register.
Next, we’ll go over copyright question 10.