Let’s dive into the top 3 reasons why it’s important to copyright a website — aka why you should protect your website by registering it with the US Copyright Office!
#1 – Presumptions
Think of a presumption as an assumption. What things would you prefer to be assumed in a copyright infringement lawsuit?
- You don’t want to have to prove that you’re the owner.
- You don’t want to have to prove that everything about the copyright registration is valid.
If you copyright a website (aka register it with the Copyright Office), the presumption is that you are the owner, and that everything in that registration is valid. Instead of you having to prove that you own it, the other side will have to prove that you don’t own it.
It helps to have those presumptions in your favor!
#2 – Potential to Recover Statutory Damages
“Statutory damages” are something in the US Copyright Act that say you get between $750 and $30,000 per infringed work. If your website’s infringed, and this goes to court, you’re automatically entitled to damages in between that range. Yes, it’s a big range, and it depends on the judge you get and other circumstances.
By the way, if you can prove willful infringement (like, it was done on purpose)? That number bumps up to $150,000.
You might be thinking, “$750 on the low end, that doesn’t sound like much.” Well, if you don’t have your work registered with the Copyright Office on time, then you are limited to what’s called actual damages. And that’s usually the other side’s profits. Well, they might not have any profits to show from your infringement and then you really aren’t entitled to much. So, between $750 – $30,000 (plus attorneys’ fees!) sounds pretty good!
And speaking of attorneys’ fees…
#3 – Potential to Recover Attorneys’ Fees
Let’s say you don’t ever want to go to court so you start with a cease and desist letter.
If you’re on the receiving end of a cease and desist letter, and you know that if this does go to court, you’re going to have to pay the other side’s attorneys fees, you’re going to want to settle real quick, right?
By having in your letter that you own a registered copyright, that adds a little extra boost to your letter because they don’t want to be on the hook for your attorney’s fees. They don’t want this to go to litigation because if is a lot of attorney time, they’re more likely to say let’s just settle this now.
To wrap up – You got your presumptions. You got your statutory damages, and you’ve got attorneys’ fees. Three good reasons to register your website with the Copyright Office!
BONUS – It Saves Time!
Here’s a little extra reason. I had this client, Stephanie (yes, I’m changing names and circumstances a little bit because of a little thing called confidentiality.)
Stephanie created this awesome website, and her direct competitor copied it verbatim. Didn’t even try to change it a little bit. Stephanie found out about it. Stephanie called me and said, “I’ve never been more glad for your services.”
I said, “Tell me more about that.”
She told me about her current competitor and we sent a letter. It was really easy to handle because she’d already had it registered. We knew what she was entitled to. They responded to the letter and it was a really quick and easy process for Stephanie because she already had her stuff registered with the Copyright Office.
So be like Stephanie, and enjoy those three little remedies!
Head to spearip.com/quiz to find out what legal blindspot is secretly killing your business. I had so much fun designing this quiz. And I know that a lot of people feel like they don’t know what they don’t know. This is for you! This quiz will help you to identify that legal blind spot and then once it’s identified help you figure out how to fix it.