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Does US copyright registration cover me for copyright disput

Posted: Mon Feb 08, 2010 6:17 pm
by Ekko

I am a UK citizen and I have registered a song I've written at the US Copyright Office. If a copyright problem occured in the UK, would I be able to use this US registration in a legal defence of my ownership?

Posted: Tue Feb 09, 2010 3:06 pm
by CopyrightAid
Provided the US Copyright Office can provide evidence of the content of your work (i.e. they hold a copy of your material and can supply a copy to support your claim) it really should not matter - evidence is still evidence.

Posted: Tue Feb 09, 2010 4:14 pm
by AndyJ
As CopyrightAid has said, for a case in the UK it all depends on whether the US CO will issue certificates of registration for use in another jurisdiction. However, if you wanted to sue someone in the American courts, pre-registration is a definite advantage, although it is not mandatory for non-US copyright holders, as it is for US holders. So long as you have complied with the law applicable in the UK (ie do nothing) then you are technically "Berne Convention Compliant" and automatically entitled to the better remedies (damages etc) which US Copyright law provides for infringement of registered copyright.

Posted: Fri Feb 19, 2010 6:07 pm
by AndyJ
I have done some more research on this question, and it appears that the US Copyright Office will provide evidence of a copyright registration, suported by an affadavit, to a member of the public, a court or other body, on request. The US Register of Copyright is open to anyone to inspect. More details here: ... 21&next=23 Section 205.22.
Andy J

Posted: Fri Mar 05, 2010 11:09 am
by Warlock
The only thing to be careful of, as I think has already been mentioned is whether the US Copyright Office can provide a copy of the work as evidence. When I contacted the US Copyright Office on a similar matter (albeit a few years ago now) I was told that works they received were simply placed into storage warehouses (i.e. there is no back up made). When I raised the question of what happens if a CD I sent to them degraded and became unreadable, there was no satisfactory response (the person I spoke to said something like "maybe you should send it on paper if you are worried about that")

We have to bear in mind that the US is a bit 'odd' when it comes to copyright and registration with the US Copyright Office in more to do with domestic US legal technicalities than ensuring there is evidence to prove a claim.
Back in the dark ages a work had to be registered in the US to receive copyright protection in the US. Even though this has not applied for many years, US domestic law still requires US citizens to register before they can take a case to court in the US. Outside the US this is a not the case (it would breach of the Berne Convention - so the US can only insist on it for their own citizens). - As AndyJ says if you are not a US citizen the US courts have to treat you as though your work is registered in the US anyway.

I did however think that entitlement to statutory damages in US courts was one of the benefits to a registration with the US Copyright Office - i.e. although you could still claim damages, you would not be automatically entitled to statutory damages if you not registered.
AndyJ's response "entitled to the better remedies (damages etc) " seems to contradict my understanding on that point, but it's been a few years since I looked at this area so I could be wrong....