What is a Copyright and What Can be Protected?
Our copyright lawyer will help you understand the definition
of "copyright" and how your copyrighted work can
Copyright law protects your original works in categories
such as the following:
books and other literary works
Copyright protections and procedures are governed by the
Federal Copyright Act. The Act gives the copyright owner exclusive
rights to copy, distribute, and perform or display a copyrighted
work. A work must meet three requirements to be copyrightable:
Authorship: the author’s original expression (not
the unprotected underlying idea)
Originality: independently created - not copied (some minimal
creativity – more than just “facts”). Original
elements can be the creative selection, coordination, or arrangement
of facts. Copyright protects those original components, not
the facts themselves.
Fixation: “fixed in a tangible medium of expression”
includes writings, computer media, paintings, films, buildings
Who Owns the Copyright?
Copyright protection exists automatically upon the work’s
creation. Thus, the author of the created work immediately
receives a property right in the work created.
If the work is “made for hire” then the employer
is deemed the author and copyright owner and not the employee.
(Our copyright attorney can help you undestand the definition
of "work made for hire" and how it may apply to
your specific situation).
Length of Copyright Protection
Generally, works are automatically protected from creation
throughout the author’s life and until 70 years after
the author’s death. If the work was created and published
or registered before January 1, 1978, other rules apply. If
the author is a business entity or “work for hire”,
other rules may apply.
Benefits of Copyright Registration
Registration is not a requirement for copyright protection.
However, there are some important advantages that flow from
Before an infringement lawsuit may be filed, registration
is necessary for works of U.S. origin
If made before or within 5 years of publication, registration
establishes evidence that the copyright is valid and confirms
all facts stated in the registration certificate
If registration is made before an infringement or within 3
months after "publication" of the work, then statutory
damages and attorneys fees are available to the copyright
Registration established a public record of the copyright
A work may be registered at any time during the term of
What Does Copyright Registration Require?
Our copyright attorney can prepare and submit your copyright
registration. Generally, registration requires:
proper application form (generally a separate application
for each single work)
federal filing fee
proper deposit material with the Register of Copyrights
The registration is effective on the date the Copyright Office
receives and accepts all required elements. The amount of
time the Office takes to review the application does not affect
the copyright registration’s effective date.
Notice of Copyright
Copyright notice is not needed to preserve copyright protections,
but notice has three advantages:
it negates a defense of innocent infringement
it may deter infringement
it is still a condition in some foreign countries (that have
not signed the Berne Convention)
Copyright notice requires the use of the © symbol, the
word “Copyright” or the abbreviation “Copr.”,
the year of first publication of the work, and the name of
the copyright owner.
The Universal Copyright Convention
The Uniform Copyright Convention ("UCC") grants
national protection and excuses formalities if published works
bear the © symbol, have the name of the copyright owner,
and state the year of first publication. This notice must
be placed in a location and manner such that it will reasonably
give notice of the claim to copyright.
The Berne Convention grants protections far more secure than
those granted under the UCC because no notice is required.
Most major industrialized countries have signed this Convention
(including all European Union countries and Japan).
Even if the work cannot be protected under an international
convention, protection may be available via bilateral agreement
between the United States and the given country or under specific
provisions of the foreign country’s national laws.