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Why you need a copyright registration before you do a DMCA takedown

California copyright lawyer Zachary Strebeck examines the reasons for registering a copyright and why it may be necessary if you plan to file a DMCA takedown notice.

Zachary Strebeck, Blogger

April 16, 2014

8 Min Read

I’ve written before about what a DMCA takedown letter is and why you might not want to send them, as well as what to do if you receive one. However, there is one wrinkle that copyright holders may not be aware of. In order to follow through with the takedown notice, you need to register your copyright.

photo credit: opensourceway via photopin cc

photo credit: opensourceway via photopin cc

Don’t I just need to send a letter?

Yes and no. To get the initial takedown, all that’s required is a letter that adheres to the requirements (see my example). However, if the target of the letter files their counter-notice, you have ten days to file a lawsuit in federal court. Once the lawsuit is filed, the content will be kept off of the Internet pending the results of the trial. Otherwise, the infringing content will be put back up.

So why do I need to register? Can’t I just file the lawsuit?

Copyright registration has numerous benefits, such as:

  • Constructive notice of your ownership

  • Legal proof of copyright ownership

  • Presumed validity

  • Statutory damages of up to $150,000 per infringement

The most important benefit of copyright registration is the ability to sue an infringer in federal court. Without registration, one cannot file a lawsuit against a copyright infringer.

See the connection?

A copyright registration doesn’t happen overnight. In fact, it can take months. So if you rush to register when you see others stealing your content, it may be too late to get it taken down for good.

How do I register a copyright?

Luckily, I will be starting a three-part series on copyright registration next week. It will go over what can and cannot be registered, what specimen to provide and a screenshot walkthrough of the entire process. Be sure to sign up to get email updates on my blog so you don’t miss it!

Until then, why not contact a copyright lawyer for help in registering or evaluating your copyright situation?

Source: Lexology, “DMCA Takedown? Not without a copyright registration,” Joshua J. Kaufman, March 25, 2014.

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