Photo Attorney

Aug 28, 2005

Correcting Copyright Registration Mistakes

Registering your copyrights with the US Copyright Office is undoubtedly important. It gives you the legal presumption that the work is yours, you are then eligible for statutory damages for infringement and it is required before you can file suit to prosecute those who infringe your copyrights. But you must follow specific instructions when registering your photographs to invoke the most complete protection.

Congratulations are in order if you already have registered your photos. But what happens if you later realize that you made a mistake on the registration? Is the registration valid? It depends.

In general, a copyright maybe registered only once. When your register your copyright, bits of information are collected about the work. The principal uses of that information are to establish and maintain a public record and to determine whether the registration complies with copyright law. Other uses include public inspection and copying and preparation of public indexes and catalogs.

If you later discover that the registration for a work is incorrect or incomplete, you may file a supplementary registration, also known as Form CA, to correct the error or to augment the previous information. The photographer, another person owning the copyright, or an agent for either of those persons may file the supplemental registration.

Form CA should be used only for errors or omissions on the initial registration - not for other changes to the original registration. For example, do not file a supplemental registration to document a change in the work. Significant modifications become derivative works entitled to their separate registrations. (See my previous blog on derivative works). Do not use Form CA when a work that you previously registered as unpublished is later published or when you transfer the copyright.

When you file a supplemental registration, the work is assigned a new number and may affect your rights. So the best thing to do is to accurately file the initial registration.

Take my advice; get professional help.