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Should You Register Your Blog with the U.S. Copyright Office

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In most of the world, including the United States, a work enjoys copyright protection the moment it is fixed into a tangible medium of expression. In short, once the doodle is on the napkin, the photo on the SD card or the blog post saved on the server, it is considered copyrighted.

However, in the United States, enforcing those rights can be a bit trickier. If you want to sue for copyright infringement, you have to first register the work in question with the U.S. Copyright Office (USCO). The U.S. is the only major country with such mandatory copyright registration and it is a major headache for content creators, especially in the digital age.

So should you take the time to register your site with the USCO? There is no definitive answer but you should at least be aware of what is required of you and what you may sacrifice if you don’t.

Benefits of Registration

Circular 1 from the USCO (PDF) lays down the benefits of registration pretty thoroughly. They include the following:

  1. Registration establishes a public record of the copyright claim.
  2. Before an infringement suit may be filed in court, registration is necessary for works of U. S. origin.
  3. If made before or within five years of publication, registration will establish prima facie evidence in court of the validity of the copyright and of the facts stated in the certificate.
  4. If registration is made within three months after publication of the work or prior to an infringement of the work, statutory damages and attorney’s fees will be available to the copyright owner in court actions. Otherwise, only an award of actual damages and profits is available to the copyright owner.
  5. Registration allows the owner of the copyright to record the registration with the U. S. Customs Service for protection against the importation of infringing copies.

For bloggers, it is elements 2 and 4 that are the most important. Though it’s nice to have a public record of the prima facie (meaning “on first appearance“) evidence of ownership, a registration is required if you are going to sue for copyright infringement in the U.S. and you are only eligible for statutory damages, which can be as high as $150,000 per infringement, and attorney’s fees if you have have filed the registration before the infringement takes place or within three months of publication.6t5r4

The latter is equally important as, in most cases, the actual damages, what one would be left with without statutory damages, is nothing. Actual damages are defined as the greater of what the infringer gained or the infringed party lost, something that is almost impossible to prove or rarely has any significant value.

In short, suing for copyright infringement is almost never practical without statutory damages and attorney’s fees.

If you are outside of the U.S., you can actually sue within the country without a registration. However, you still can not claim statutory damages. As such, the same as with U.S. citizens, suing is often impractical.

Still, the question remains, should you register your site with the USCO? The answer is really up to you.

To Register, or Not To Register

Registering your site or your content with the USCO doesn’t take that long and is fairly straightforward. It can be done online and, for a basic registration, takes less than 30 minutes. All you’ll need to do is zip up the contents of your site or place it in a text file that can be uploaded.

However, there is a financial cost to it. Each registration costs $35 though you can register multiple works at once, including your entire site if you wish. However, bear in mind that if you do that, you can only claim statutory damages once per registration.

Any attorney you talk to will insist upon you registering your site every three months at least. Though it is unclear how the USCO’s definition of “published” fits with the Web, meaning that may not provide perfect protection, it is certainly more practical than trying to register each post individually as they are uploaded.

That being said though, the real test is whether or not you plan to sue for copyright infringement. If you have no plans to do so, no matter what, registration is a waste of time and money. If you think you might want to some day, it’s probably best to make the effort to register your work.

In the end, only you can decide if your work has enough financial and/or personal value to warrant registration, but even if it has only a small amount, it may well be worth taking the time to protect it correctly.

Bottom Line

You don’t need to register your work to send cease and desist letters, DMCA takedown notices and take other action to protect your copyright, however, if you want to sue in the U.S., you will need it at some point, preferably before the infringement.

The decision about whether or not to register hinges almost completely on that element, to sue or not.

To that end, the vast majority of copyright holders never file any kind of suit, even when they are infringed upon. Most cases are resolved through other means, such as removal of the work or payment of a licensing fee. Only a fraction of a percent of all infringement cases make it to a lawsuit at all.

As such, for most it will likely be a waste of time and money but, for those who think they might want that option at some point, even if they never use it, having the registrations in order could be a valuable insurance policy against infringement, especially egregious cases.

The choice is yours but, either way, it is important to be aware of the consequences of the decision.

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Are You an Organized Blogger?

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How do you organize your blogging day? Do you work off of a to-do list? What do you do to be organized?

As I promote my eBook:

How to Organize Your Blogging Day for Maximum Efficiency

I ponder blogging problems arising from being disorganized. Mental clutter leads to blogging clutter. I prefer to clear my mind with meditating and Kriya yoga, in addition to yin yoga. Thoughts and feelings seem to flow smoothly after my mental science sessions. Of course, making a simple, blanket decision to be organized allows your day to progress gracefully. Consider working off of a to-do list to begin organizing effectively.

Create a To-Do List

Creating a to-do list adds order to your mind. Orderly, focused-thinking bloggers proceed in organized fashion. I memorized my blogging routine. No need for a to-do lit. But I stick to my basic strategy of publishing blog posts and guest posts in alternating fashion daily. I publish a blog post. I publish a guest post. Works wonders for me. I stick to these basic tasks, tossing in networking generously to expand my blogging reach. Simple. Powerful. Effective. Organized. Work from this list to avoid mental chaos. Human beings experience some 40,000 plus thoughts daily. Do you think an unenlightened being like yourself can hold a core list of blogging tasks in mind amid those 40,000 thoughts, along with the adjacent feelings? Fat chance. But working from a list makes blogging quite easy. See concrete items to do before your eyes. Hold these ideas in mind. Execute. Be organized.

Maintain an Orderly Home Office

Clean up your home office. Maintain a clear space. Physical clutter often creates mental clutter manifest as disorganization. But cleaning and clearing things up helps you feel better about work. Feeling better about work lends an organized air about what you do. See a clear environment. Instantly, your thoughts and feelings proceed in organized fashion. I always clean up my home office before beginning my work day. Ditto for clearing the office space. I never tolerate messiness. Papers need to go. Clothes need to be folded and stowed away in drawers. I blog with my Chromebook and phone by my side. Nothing else distracts me. Can you see why I wrote and self-published 126 eBooks? I do not play around when it comes to being organized about my blogging day.

Study Organized Bloggers

Most pro bloggers blog on the ball from an organization perspective. Pay attention to these pros. Study their ways closely. Most established pros follow morning rituals to prepare themselves for busy work days. I do 20 minutes of Kriya yoga and meditate for 30 minutes to clear my mind for a productive blogging work day. Virtually all pros follow rituals enhancing their peace of mind and organizational skills. Of course, feeling good plays a chief role in succeeding and in organizing your blogging day for maximum efficiency. Do what you can on waking to max out good feeling vibes. Nudge into your work day from a relaxed, peaceful, organized energy. Observe established pros. Closely study how they plan their blogging day. Do you notice how busy pros tend to do only a few things but spend 8-12 hours doing these few things generously, patiently and persistently? Being organized often involves trimming fat in the form of old, worn out, inefficient blogging activities. See how pros trim fat by letting go blogging strategies as they gain greater clarity. Follow their lead to get better organized with your blogging campaign.

As within, so without. Heed this ancient wisdom to be a better organized blogger. Organizing your thoughts and feelings leads to organized blogging actions.

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Every Blogger Walks a Different Path

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Neil Patel walks a different path than I. I walk a different blogging path than you. Just like no two snowflakes are alike, no two bloggers walk the same exact path. We take different routes. Different journeys require different strategies, detours, tactics and strategies. Neil walked an SEO-rich path. I do not. I chose a prolific, SEO-free path. No one mimics a fellow blogger perfectly because no two humans have the same experience. We succeed by differentiating. Never believe you need to walk the same path as some blogging pro to succeed. Of course, doing so proves fruitless because no two bloggers walk the same blogging journey. Never try to do the impossible. Stop believing you need to do the same things top bloggers do to succeed like top bloggers. I broke many traditional blogging rules to circle the globe as a pro blogger. Of course I created a blogging course, eBooks and audio books. Content? Check. Connections? Check. I honored fundamentals to succeed but never tried mimicking the same journey as any top blogger.

Walk your blogging path. Take your blogging journey. Your blogging path separates you from the herd. My travel stories and blogging lessons make me different from any blogger. Ditto for you. We all have different experiences to call upon for becoming a successful blogger. Respect your uniqueness. Find your blogging flow. I do not enjoy doing SEO to drive Google traffic. Why would I force a blogging journey trough some strategy I disliked working?  I should just work a job if I did something for money versus working for passion. Of course, I never took a path like Neil Patel because I do not enjoy SEO-optimizing posts. I succeeded through another strategy. Never believe you need to walk the same path as pros to become successful as pros. New bloggers swing and miss daily by believing success is writing 4,000 word, SEO-optimized posts dominating competitive keywords on Google. Are you nuts? Neil Patel dominates competitive keywords on Google after 10,000 plus hours of practice-work-creating-connecting. You have 5 or 10 hours or maybe 100 hours of practice-work-creating-connecting. Relax. Slow down. Calm down. You have another 10,000 hours of blogging work to do before being skilled, creative and connected enough to dominate page 1 of Google for 1 – let alone 20 – competitive keywords.

But you may dislike SEO all together. Take a different blogging path. Find tactics resonant with you. Perhaps building bonds with bloggers and creating helpful content feels fun to you. Take that route. But know your path differs from any blogging path because we each fly solo and learn different lessons for specific parts of our blogging journey. No two bloggers walk in the same blogging shoes. No two bloggers walk the same blogging path. Two bloggers may walk similar blogging journeys. Bloggers sometimes walk similar blogging paths. But nobody walks identical paths because bloggers have different experiences to learn from during our blogging journey.

Respect your path. Honor your progression. Accept how you blog in the perfect place, at the perfect time, now. Do not resist your blogging path. Everything brought you here to this point now. Accepting your present state of blogging growth reduces resistance to future growth. Surrender serves as a powerful concept. Be completely at peace with your blogging growth now. Hug your progress. Walk your blogging path. Of course, note wins. Celebrate success. Avoid comparing yourself to bloggers. Bloggers experience different situations to benefit from different circumstances. We all have different lessons to learn on our respective blogging journeys. Honor this truth. Cultivate peace of mind. Position yourself to succeed. Walk your one-of-a-kind blogging path to experience your greatest success.

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Do you want to build a loyal blog community? Buy my eBook:

6 Tips to Grow a Rabidly Loyal Blog Community

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Hobbies Change for Habits to Change

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Over a decade ago, I woke up, watched TV, grabbed breakfast, hit the gym for bodybuilding and returned home to watch a DVD movie. At 2:30 PM I prepared for work. I drove to my security guard job. By 10:30 PM on most nights I drove home. Evening movie. Sleep. Rinse, wash and repeat the following day. I worked a security guard job. My hobbies consisted of lifting weights and watching TV. But my hobbies and habits changed the moment I became a blogger. Morning breakfast vanished. I stopped going to the time-consuming gym. Watching movies every day? Fat chance. My bodybuilding workout and movie hobbies had to change for me to begin the habits of meditating, doing yoga and expanding my awareness daily. Hobbies change before habits change.

New bloggers often struggle because newbies cling to old, worn out, failing hobbies like:

  • watching TV for hours nightly
  • mindlessly cruising the internet for hours nightly
  • mindlessly gossiping on the phone or with family for hours nightly

These low-energy hobbies need to change pronto for you to develop fun, freeing, higher energy habits like meditating, doing yoga, blogging generously and engaging in some form of exercise. Picture those 4 hours you waste on watching TV each evening. How do you find time to engage in different habits? Change your hobbies. Out goes TV, or, TV just consumes 45 minutes per evening. Enter 20 minutes of meditating. Release some hobbies. Fill the time with different, empowering, freeing, sometimes uncomfortable habits. Imagine watching the idiot box for 3 hours nightly. 3 hours pass. Nothing profitable, productive or empowered happens watching the television. But for you to be a pro blogger you need to spend those 3 hours meditating for perhaps 10 minutes and blogging for the remaining 2 hours and 50 minutes. Change your hobbies to create space for changing habits. Changing habits accelerates, colors and influences hobby changes too. My hobbies went from watching TV to circling the globe on meditating more deeply, doing more yoga and spending more time in serious introspection. Life became more uncomfortable but far more fun and freeing as my hobbies and habits changed. I preferred to wander around Ubud, Bali versus watching an episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm. My hobbies changed for the better. I respect how we all travel different paths but if your hobbies and habits never changed, you are either enlightened, and never needed to change your meditating and yoga habits, or you have been making fear-driven, comfortable, confining choices wasting your life.

I have yet to see a genuinely happy, peaceful, powerful, prospering person who watches more than 2-3 hours of TV every single night. People call TV the idiot box because television makes you an idiot. Mindless, bland, non-stimulating TV watching does nothing for your growth, happiness, fulfillment, peace of mind and overall abundance. Empowered bloggers cannot spend 5 seconds on idle, mindless, dingbat-style activities. Stop spending hours watching TV each evening. Start spending hours blogging and working on your abundance mindset. Buy a blogging eBook. Surround yourself with pro bloggers. Learn from these pros. Mimic their ways. Gain inspiration from their example. Fill time not with garbage but with goal-achieving, fun, freeing and sometimes scary blogging actions. First, the hobbies change. Gone goes watching TV, gossiping and wasting time on low energy actions. Habits change with the hobby vacuum being void. Begin meditating. Start doing yoga. Awareness-expanding activities unearth fears, nudge you toward love, amplify your generosity and accelerate your blogging success.

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