Whether a business purchases rights to creative works or hires professionals to produce them for the organization, the company will understandably want to protect that investment. Yet, balancing the need for legal protection with the cost involved in obtaining it can be difficult, particularly when an organization has a massive roster of images, essays, songs or video clips that it needs to safeguard.
The process of filing an application for formal copyright protection can absolutely benefit organizations with substantial intellectual property (IP) holdings. Businesses can file a Copyright Registration Application, along with the original work and a fee, to formally register each holding with the United States Copyright Office. The fees depend on the speed of processing, the number of works submitted at the same time and whether an appeal is necessary.
Having copyright protection does not inherently prevent copyright violations but instead allows a business to take action more effectively when an individual or another business infringes on their copyright. With that said, not every holder needs to register every holding formally. The system is a little more nuanced than that.
Formal registration is beneficial but not always necessary
Whether it is necessary to request copyright protection for original works may be a decision that an organization needs to make largely on a case-by-case basis. There is some degree of copyright protection available for any original works published or released to the public. Releasing something online via social media or using it in business publications could constitute publishing it.
General copyright protection obtained through publishing works can be sufficient for some cases, but formal registration might be a smart move in many other scenarios. Particularly when one party needs to take another party to court for an infringement matter, registering for copyright protection for the original work could potentially help strengthen their case.
It may not be necessary to go to court if the infringing party recognizes their mistake and agrees to compensate the copyright holder after receiving a cease-and-desist notice about the alleged violation of copyright protections. They may cease infringing activities and even agree to compensate the copyright holder.
Even when companies regularly make use of IP protections, they may require outside review and support when handling a major infringement issue or reevaluating company practices to more effectively protect against future infringement. Recognizing when formal copyright registration is essential can help businesses more reasonably allocate their resources for IP protection and enforcement efforts.