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Factoring in Copyright Protection for your E-Commerce Business

Unless you’re under a rock, your email inbox is now being inundated with online sales advertisements.  For every e-commerce business, your website is your intellectual property and contains your most valuable asset for marketing, sales and brand power.  It includes your company’s domain name, graphics, logo, images and written content.  Frankly, the better the website is, the more likely it will be to catch the eye of an unscrupulous competitor that can easily copy your website content and images and present them as their own.  The best way to prevent others from stealing your content and images is copyright protection.

While copyright law automatically gives you ownership of your original work at the moment you create it, there are important benefits to registering the copyrighted work.  With a population of over 325 million people, most Canadian companies are keen to target the US market online.  If your e-commerce business targets U.S. based customers or you have U.S. based competitors, then you should consider registering with the U.S. Copyright Office.  Here are five reasons why:


 1. Evidence of Validity
It is evidence that your copyright is valid.

2. Pre-requisite to Filing an Infringement Action
Before you can sue someone for copyright infringement in the US, you are required to register the copyrighted work at issue.

3. Receive Statutory Damages and Attorneys’ Fees
To be eligible for an award of statutory damages, which can range from $30,000 to $150,000 (US) per infringement and attorneys’ fees, the copyrighted work must have been registered before the infringement occurred.  Otherwise, proving harm and damages from infringement are generally more difficult.


4. Provides a Public Record
Puts others on notice that your work is protected by copyright and you are the copyright owner.

5. Satisfies Deposit Requirements
With some exceptions, the Copyright Act requires owners to deposit two copies of their work with the Library of Congress within 3 months of publishing the work. This is commonly referred to as “mandatory deposit”.  However, registering your work with the U.S. Copyright Office will satisfy this requirement.