Copyright Preregistration Another Piece of the Registration Puzzle

I recently attended a Continuing Legal Education (CLE) seminar in which the presenter asserted that copyright owners who register their works within one month after the infringement occurs can still get attorney’s fees and statutory damages in litigation.  That assertion perplexed me, so I looked at the statute afterwards.  Perplexed, because, for the copyright owner to receive attorney’s fees and statutory damages, the statute requires that the work be registered either before the infringement occurs or within 3 months after the first publication.

Section 412 of the Copyright Act of 1976 indicates that statutory damages and attorney’s fees may be available for copyright owners of preregistered works when the registration occurs one month after the owner learns of the infringement. 

…an action for infringement of the copyright of a work that has been preregistered under section 408(f) before the commencement of the infringement and that has an effective date of registration not later than the earlier of 3 months after the first publication of the work or 1 month after the copyright owner has learned of the infringement…

17 U.S.C. §412.

The one month window applies only if the work is a) preregistered and b) the one month period occurs before 3 months after the first publication.

This leads to two questions:  1) What is preregistration? and 2) What is publication?

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