Filing for copyright registration is generally a relatively inexpensive and easy task if you follow the instructions. Published and unpublished works are filed separately. When you file registration for a published work, the copyright office requires you to provide the date of publication (or your best estimate).
The benefits of registration are great—especially if you file before any infringement takes place. If your lawsuit succeeds, youll be entitled to statutory damages up to $100,000 per infringement and to have your attorneys fees paid. Without a copyright registration, its probably not economically feasible to file suit to protect your copyright, even when theres no doubt about the infringement. Youd be entitled only to your damages and the infringers profits, which may not equal the cost of litigating the case.
Mark Gottsegen is an associate professor of art at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro and chair of the American Society of Testing and Materials subcommittee on artists materials.