The Best Way to Protect Your Work through Copyright Protection

Written By Kyu Hee Chu & Charles Hwang

Reviewed By Cynthia Amis

How can you make sure your work gets the maximum amount of protection it deserves?  Well, there are two ways to go about protecting your work – you can register your work with the Writer’s Guild of America (“WGA”) and you can also register your work with the Copyright Office at the Library of Congress.  Most people think that they can just register with the WGA, but the truth is that registering with the Library of Congress will give you added protection that you may not get from just registering with the WGA.

Let’s first take a look at some of the benefits that you will receive from registering with the WGA.  When you register your work with the WGA, they will give you a filing number and the date of filing, which will help show that you were the owner of that work on that date.[1]  Registration lasts for 5 years, and can be renewed.[2]

Now let’s take a look at the advantages of registering a copyright with the Library of Congress.  First, registering your work will create a public record of your copyright claim to your work.  Second, registering gives you the right to bring a lawsuit against others for copyright infringement.  Third, if you have registered your work within 3 months of publication, or before anybody has infringed on your work, you may be able to get back attorneys’ fees and up to $100,000 in damages without having to prove any monetary loss.  Fourth, registering your work within five years of publication creates prima facie proof of the validity of your copyright.  Fifth, once your work has been registered, you can record your registration with the United States Customs Service so that you may be protected against the importation of counterfeit or infringing copies of your work.[3]  Furthermore, because the United States has copyright agreements with many countries, your copyright may be recognized in those countries.[4]  Finally, if your work was created after January 1, 1978, your work will be copyright protected during your entire life plus 70 years.[5]  That’s a pretty long time.

In comparing the differences in protection offered between the types of registration, it makes fiscal, practical and legal sense to register your work(s) with both agencies. Registration with the WGA will cost members of the general public twenty dollars ($20) and WGA members in good standing ten dollars ($10). Registration of your copyrighted work with The Library of Congress will cost you anywhere from thirty five to one hundred and fifteen dollars ($35 – $115) based on whether it is a standard online registration or pre-registration of an unpublished work.

The benefits of registering with both agencies (mentioned above) make the associated cost of doing so priceless. In a practical and legal sense, two layers of registration will save you time and as a result money when and if your work is infringed. Now that you know all this, don’t you want to register your work with the Library of Congress?  All you need to do is go to and click on “Registration” at the top of the website and follow the directions from there.


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