Great News for Influencers and Bloggers! It's Now Easy and Inexpensive to Protect Your Content.
You work hard to frequently create original, authentic, and compelling content for your channel, blog or other social. You want your content being reposted and linked, but what about when it’s changed in ways you don’t want, used in ads or otherwise without your permission (or payment to you)?
The ease of making and sharing online content has also made it easy and common for anyone to make unwanted and unauthorized changes to it, or just take it and claim it as theirs. Either can hurt your brand and reputation.
The U.S. Copyright Office has finally done something about this. They recently created a method to specifically help creators of frequent, short online content to simply and very cost-effectively protect what they create.
It’s called GRTX. It for the first time allows those who regularly create blogs, posts, articles, poems, and other short online content, to register for copyright several of their short works in one shot, on one application, for one filing fee. And:
It’s easy. You can do it yourself, and probably don’t need a lawyer for it -- (Yes, you heard right). It can be done online at https://www.copyright.gov/grtx/. The portal is designed for non-lawyers. You’ll also find tutorials, FAQ, and instructions there to guide you through;
It’s quick – takes maybe 30 minutes;
It’s inexpensive – far less than the usual $45 or $65 to register each work separately. Those individual filing fees can easily be thousands of dollars for registering a lot of works; and,
It’s super important – Why? Because one can only sue for copyright infringement and get money damages (or have their lawyer meaningfully threaten it, which is often just as effective) if their infringed work is registered. Other benefits of registration (and disincentives to infringement) are getting your attorneys’ fees paid, and being able to get special types of money damages from the infringer.
Here are the main GRTX rules:
It applies to text-only works (or the text part of works with video or other images) first available online (or simultaneously with a physical form of publication);
Up to 50 works can be registered at one time by filing one application;
Each work must be between 50 and 17,500 (about 35 single-spaced pages) words;
Each work must be created by the same person or persons (if created jointly);
Each creator must be named as the copyright claimant for each work;
All works in the application must have been made available during the same three-month period;
The group of works and each separate work must have a separate title; and,
The works can’t be “works made for hire” (where the creator doesn’t own them).
When should you register? Each time you’ve created a number of posts, blogs, or other short works. If you wait to register until you’ve been ripped off, it’s likely too late. Most infringement damages occur before the infringement is discovered.
So, protect your content – and your cashflow. Schedule a regular time (monthly, or otherwise depending on how often you create content) to register your short online works. Don’t wait until it’s too late.
Paul I. Menes
The Influencer Lawyer ®
(c) 2020 Paul I. Menes