What is the Difference Between Registration and Pre-Registration?

Preregistration is a service intended for works that have had a history of prerelease infringement.  A copyright holder may benefit from preregistration if it is likely that the work will be infringed before it is released and production of the work has began, but is not completed. It is important to note that preregistration is not a substitute for registration. The purpose of preregistration is to allow an infringement action to be brought before the authorized commercial distribution of a work and full registration of that work. Also it allows for the copyright owner to receive statutory damages and attorney’s fees in an infringement action.

There are three requirements for preregistration: the work must be unpublished, the work must be in the process of being prepared for commercial distribution in either physical or digital format, and must be one of the following types of works: motion pictures, sound recordings, musical compositions, literary works being prepared for publication in book form, computer programs (including videogames), or advertising/marketing photographs.

A person who has preregistered a work is required, in order to preserve the legal benefits of preregistration, to register the work within one month after the copyright owner becomes aware of infringement and no later than three months after first publication. If full registration is not made within that time period, a court must dismiss an action for copyright infringement that occurred before or within the first two months after first publication.

Registration is to place on record a verifiable account of the date and content of the work in question, so that in the event of a legal claim, or case of infringement or plagiarism, the copyright owner can produce a copy of the work from an official government source.

Before 1978, in the United States, federal copyright was generally secured by the act of publication with notice of copyright or by registration of an unpublished work.[1] This has now been largely superseded by international conventions, principally the Berne Convention, which provide rights harmonized at an international level without a requirement for national registration. However, the U.S. still provides legal advantages for registering works of U.S. origin