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How to I protect my informational product from theft?

One important action you can take is to secure copyright over your information. Technically, as advised by the United States Patent and Trademark Office, you have copyrights as soon as you create your work and make it tangible, such as putting it down on paper or on a CD. You have no obligation to register your copyright in the United States’ Copyright Office or anywhere else. There is also no requirement that you publish your works.

That said, although registering your work is not a legal requirement to retain your copyrights, it is a very good idea to do so. There are a multitude of benefits that can save you much heartache later.

Put the world on notice of your copyright

First, it helps to create evidence or proof that you do enjoy copyrights on that work because registering it with the government office creates a public record. It puts others on notice that another person or company claims to own this piece of work.

Prima facie court evidence of your copyright

Also, if you later publish your works and if you had previously registered your works, you would have proof, in fact prima facie evidence admissible in court, that you hold the valid copyright. If you have not registered your works prior to publishing them, registering the works within five years of that publication will also suffice to provide the prima facie evidence of copyright, should you find yourself in court later. If your information originated in the United States, and you need to file a copyright infringement case later, you will first have to register your work anyway.

Receive Customs Service protections from imports

Another benefit of registration is that you, as owner of the copyright, may now record your registration with the United States Customs Service so that it will receive protection from the importing of copies that violate your copyright.

Receive greater compensation damages

Lastly, registration can mean that if you end up in court, you, the copyright owner who has either felt compelled to file an infringement case against a violating party or defend a case yourself, will not be limited in compensation for your troubles.

With no registration, you may have restrictions by law to only your actual damages and the profits from the infringement. Rather, by registering, you can seek attorney’s fees from the other party. You can also request statutory damages. In order to do so, your registration must be made prior to any infringement occurring or within three months of publishing your work.

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