What is Copyright?
A copyright is a right to prevent others from using your originally authored work. Under the federal copyright law, a copyright entitles the owner to many exclusive rights, such as the right to:
- Reproduce the copyrighted work
- Distribute copies of the copyrighted work to the public for sale
- Perform the copyrighted work
Types of Copyrighted Works
Copyrights can protect endless types of creative work such as:
- Recorded or sheet music
- Books and novels
- Software codes, video games and CD-ROMs
- Art, such as paintings, plays, dance choreography, and sculptures
Under the federal law, you get a copyright to your work automatically once you have "fixed" your original work in a "tangible medium of expression." You must have independently created the work and not adapted it from something else. The work must also be placed in a sufficiently permanent medium so others can reproduce, view or communicate it.
Registering a Copyright
There are a number of reasons you should still formally register your copyright. While your work does have automatic copyright protection once it fits the above description, you are limited in your remedies if you do not properly register the copyright.
For example, copyright registration will affect:
- Lawsuits - If you are a U.S. copyright owner, you must register your copyright before initiating an action for copyright infringement
- Damages - You cannot get damages for infringement for any period before the copyright is registered
- Evidence - The registration of copyright, in addition to some other criteria, is proof of the validity of a copyright
An owner and creator of original work can register a copyright at the U.S. Copyright Office. Usually, an owner needs to fill out a form specific to the work that the owner wishes to register, and submit a fee.
Should I Consult an Attorney about My Copyright Issue?
An attorney can help you meet all the deadlines and fulfill all the requirements. A lawyer can also participate in on-going research to make certain no one else is using your copyright without your permission. Additionally, if you have an issue of copyright infringement, an attorney can guide you through the difficult and strict procedural requirements for litigation and bring out the core of your case.
Consult a Lawyer - Present Your Case Now!
Last Modified: 09-29-2011 11:38 AM PDT