101 “COPYRIGHT ESSENTIALS” COPYRIGHT SHELDON P. STARKE,

After March 1, 1989, the Copyright Law changed in a major way, but many authors still have not followed the requirements that give substantial benefits to all creators of intellectual property, such as authors, songwriters, artists and the like. Here are highlights of the Berne Convention that became effective in 1989.

The Big Problem: I hear people say, “I have no problem! I sent in the Federal Registration and I do not have to worry!” Well, these people are almost right. But, it is not a game of horseshoes where almost can be a winner. More later. When the U.S. adopted the Berne Convention, the mandatory notice of copyright is abolished. For the first time in U.S. history mandatory notice of copyright was abolished for works published on or after March 1, 1989. Failure to place a notice of copyright on copies of such works can no longer results in the loss of copyright. However, it is my opinion to continue using the notices. If the notice appears on copies then an infringer cannot claim that he or she committed an innocent infringement. The following is a sample of a typical copyright notice:

© 2014 Your name notice requirements before March 1,1989, remained unchanged! Before a Copyright Infringement lawsuit is brought, it must be submitted to the copyright office for registration. There are certain exceptions which are very specific under Berne. These changes are in favor of foreign works. It is my strong opinion that you gain a great deal by copyright registration, always. If you’re serious about your work, register. But that is not all.

Presumption of Copyright Validity. The Copyright Owner who registers before or within five years of first publication receives the benefit of a legal presumption in court, called prima facie evidentiary weight. This is very important in court! This means that the court will presume: That the facts stated in the copyright certificate or registration is true; and that the copyright is valid.

There are important changes in statutory damages and attorney’s fees. Another benefit of timely registration that the copyright owner of works registered for copyright protection within three months of publication, or before infringement, is eligible for an award or attorney’s fees and statutory damages. These damages are now double the amounts previously provided. A copyright owner may elect to receive either actual damages or statutory damages. Where statutory damages are elected, the court determines the amount of the award, within a certain range. The Berne Convention Implementation Act doubled statutory damages. Statutory damages were created by law to replace the horrendous problem of computing actual damages.

Recall the comment: “I have no problem! I sent in the Federal Registration and I do not have to worry!”
But, there is a worry. Let’s say that despite the fact you have filed a Federal Registration someone steals your script, song etc. The fact of the matter and the big hint for those who want something out of all this reading is this . . .KEEP TRACK OF WHOM YOU SEND YOUR MATERIAL TO! BECAUSE . . .IF SOMEONE STEALS YOUR WORK, HOW WILL YOU PROVE “ACCESS” TO THE MATERIAL?
WITHOUT PROOF OF ACCESS OR ITS EQUIVALENT, YOU CANNOT PROVE INFRINGEMENT!
SO, TAKE CARE NOT JUST TO REGISTER, BUT TO COVER YOURSELF. KEEP AN ACCESS BOOK. Thank you for giving me your time and reading my material. It is a value I enjoy giving. Your comments are always appreciated when you are “Under the Blog and Over the Top!”

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