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Protecting Copyrightable Works

Copyright protection arises automatically as soon as a work is created.

In some jurisdictions, a registered copyright confers important legal rights that a company can preserve – China and the United States are two such jurisdictions. As such, all important copyrighted works can be registered in China and the United States but special care should be taken in registering any engineering or software works so that trade secrets are not forfeited. For more information, see the guidelines within this section.

In the United States, copyright registration confers certain enforcement benefits such as:

  • The ability to sue. A registered copyright should be held in order to sue another party for infringement in federal court.
  • Increased damages. The copyright holder may be entitled to statutory damages and attorneys’ fees. Rather than having to prove actual damages, a copyright holder with a timely registration may be eligible for statutory damages of up to $250,000 per infringement, plus attorneys’ fees. “Timely” means that the registration was made before the infringement occurs or within three months of publication.
  • Attorney’s fees to be paid by the infringer.
  • Customs protection. Allowing the copyright holder to record the registration with U.S. Customs to protect against the importation of infringing copies into the US.

A copyright notice contains four different elements, each of which is brief but important.

  1. The Copyright Symbol — ©
  2. The Year of the Creation
  3. The Name of the Author
  4. A Rights Statement

For example: © 2016, Company Inc. All Rights Reserved.

In the cases where the material was created over a period of time, you can simply use a hyphen to designate a range, such as “2010-2016.”

The name is just the name of the owner of the work, in most cases the Company. A rights statement is nothing more than an indication in the rights you hold in the work. “All Rights Reserved” preserves all rights in the work and should be used in all cases.