United States Code/Title 17/Chapter 4/Sections 411 and 412

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United States Code
by the United States Government
Title 17, Chapter 4, §§ 411 and 412
From the U.S. Copyright Office.: Added by section 101 of title I of the Copyright Act of 1976 (Pub. L. 94-553, Oct. 19, 1976, 90 Stat. 2541), with effect from January 1, 1978, as amended by Public Laws 100-568, 101-650, 105-80, 105-304 and 109-9.

§ 411—Registration and infringement actions

(a) Except for an action brought for a violation of the rights of the author under section 106A(a), and subject to the provisions of subsection (b), no civil action for infringement of the copyright in any United States work shall be instituted until preregistration or registration of the copyright claim has been made in accordance with this title. In any case, however, where the deposit, application, and fee required for registration have been delivered to the Copyright Office in proper form and registration has been refused, the applicant is entitled to institute an action for infringement if notice thereof, with a copy of the complaint, is served on the Register of Copyrights. The Register may, at his or her option, become a party to the action with respect to the issue of registrability of the copyright claim by entering an appearance within sixty days after such service, but the Register's failure to become a party shall not deprive the court of jurisdiction to determine that issue.

(b) In the case of a work consisting of sounds, images, or both, the first fixation of which is made simultaneously with its transmission, the copyright owner may, either before or after such fixation takes place, institute an action for infringement under section 501, fully subject to the remedies provided by sections 502 through 506 and sections 509 and 510, if, in accordance with requirements that the Register of Copyrights shall prescribe by regulation, the copyright owner—

(1) serves notice upon the infringer, not less than 48 hours before such fixation, identifying the work and the specific time and source of its first transmission, and declaring an intention to secure copyright in the work; and
(2) makes registration for the work, if required by subsection (a), within three months after its first transmission.

§ 412—Registration as prerequisite to certain remedies for infringement

In any action under this title, other than an action brought for a violation of the rights of the author under section 106A(a), 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, or an action instituted under section 411(b), no award of statutory damages or of attorney's fees, as provided by sections 504 and 505, shall be made for—

(1) any infringement of copyright in an unpublished work commenced before the effective date of its registration; or
(2) any infringement of copyright commenced after first publication of the work and before the effective date of its registration, unless such registration is made within three months after the first publication of the work.

Amendment history[edit]

Sections 411 and 412 were added by § 101 of title I of the Copyright Act of 1976 (Pub. L. 94-553, Oct. 19, 1976, 90 Stat. 2541), with effect from January 1, 1978.

Berne Convention Implementation Act of 1988[edit]

Pub. L. 100-568, Oct. 31, 1988, 102 Stat. 2853

  • Amended the heading to section 411 by substituting "and infringement actions" for "as prerequisite to infringement suit", with effect from March 1, 1989.
  • Amended subsection 411(a) by adding "Except for actions for infringement of copyright in Berne Convention works whose country of origin is not the United States, and" before "subject", with effect from March 1, 1989.
  • Amended paragraph 411(b)(2) by adding ", if required by subsection (a)," after "work", with effect from March 1, 1989.

Visual Artists Rights Act of 1990[edit]

Pub. L. No. 101-650, 104 Stat. 5089, 5131.

  • Amended subsection 411(a) by adding "and an action brought for a violation of the rights of the author under section 106A(a)" after "United States".
  • Amended section 412 by adding "an action brought for a violation of the rights of the author under section 106A(a) or" after "other than".

Public Law 105-80[edit]

  • Substituted new text for paragraph 411(b)(1).

WIPO Copyright and Performances and Phonograms Treaties Implementation Act of 1998[edit]

  • Amended subsection 411(a) by deleting "actions for infringement of copyright in Berne Convention works whose country of origin is not the United and" in the first sentence and by adding "United States" after "no action for infringement of the copyright in any".

Artists' Rights and Theft Prevention Act of 2005[edit]

Pub. L. 109-9, Apr. 27, 2005, 119 Stat. 218

  • Amended subsection 411(a) by adding "preregistration or" after "shall be instituted until".
  • Substituted new text for section 412. Previous text read:
"In any action under this title, other than an action brought for a violation of the rights of the author under section 106A(a) or an action instituted under section 411(b), no award of statutory damages or of attorney's fees, as provided by sections 504 and 505, shall be made for—
"(1) any infringement of copyright in an unpublished work commenced before the effective date of its registration; or
"(2) any infringement of copyright commenced after first publication of the work and before the effective date of its registration, unless such registration is made within three months after the first publication of the work."