Copyrights and Registration

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| November 14, 2007

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You asked your legal, copyright, and trademark questions, and Jean has answered! All questions are culled from the comments section attached to the original ‘Ask Jean’ post. We invite you to ask more questions.

Hi Jean,

I am a freelance web and graphic designer. I do logos, photography, graphics, and web design. I have never protected any of my art pieces with a copyright, and I am not quite sure whether I need to or just should?

Do I have to register every single graphic I create? It seems like a very annoying and time consuming task.

Can I instead protect all my artwork by registering once and then submitting pictures of every piece? Or, is there some other process that will make the task easier and faster?

Thanks,
Susana E.

Dear Susana,

You don’t need to register a copyrighted work to own a copyrighted work. Once you create it you own it, and it’s always protected. Registration is useful in that it provides you with a lot of legal ammunition and qualifies you for such things as statutory damages the reimbursement of attorney’s fees. However, as you point out, it often doesn’t make sense to register everything. I would recommend that you put copyright notices on all your pieces (© yourname 2007) but file registrations only for works that are widely distributed in a format that’s easy to copy. There are certain circumstances under which you can register collections of works together, but, for artwork, you typically have to file separate registrations.

Best,
Jean

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