What is a Copyright?
Copyright law is a form of protection provided by the laws of the United States (Title 17 of the U.S. Code) and the U.S. Constitution given to the creators of “original works of authorship” including literary, dramatic, musical, artistic, and other creative works. This protection is available to both published and unpublished works. The Copyright Act gives the owner of a copyright the exclusive rights to do and to authorize others to:
•reproduce the work in copies or phonorecords
•prepare derivative works based upon the work
•distribute copies or phonorecords of the work to the public by sale or other transfer of ownership, or by rental, lease, or lending
•perform the work publicly, in the case of literary, musical, dramatic, and choreographic works, pantomimes, and motion pictures and other audio visual works
•display the work publicly, in the case of literary, musical, dramatic, and choreographic works, pantomimes, and pictorial, graphic, or sculptural works, including the individual images of a motion picture or other audiovisual work; perform the work publicly (in the case of sound recordings*) by means of a digital audio transmission
How do I get Copyright Protection? Why should I register my copyright?
Well, you already own a number of copyrighted materials! Your work is protected under copyright the moment it is created and fixed in a tangible form that it is perceptible either directly or with the aid of a machine or device. However, registration is recommended for a number of reasons. Many choose to register their works because they wish to have the facts of their copyright on the public record and have a certificate of registration.
Registered works may be eligible for statutory damages and attorney's fees in successful litigation. The facts that you are entitled to these damages and attorneys' fees may motivate a potential defendant to settle without litigation. Finally, if registration occurs within 5 years of publication, it is considered prima facie evidence in a court of law.
How is a copyright different than a trademark or patent?
Copyright protects original works of authorship, while a patent protects inventions or discoveries. Ideas are not protected by the copyright law, although the way in which they are expressed may be. Ideas may be protected under other theories of law (go to Idea Protection). A trademark protects words, phrases, symbols, or designs identifying the source of the goods or services of one party and distinguishing them from those of others. In short, copyright protects artistic works, patents protect inventions and discoveries, and trademarks protect business names and logos.
To access the United States Copyright Office website CLICK HERE
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