How to copyright your work: Featured Article
Many people have hobbies and things that they do for fun or in their spare time. Many people spend hours and hours of work on things that are important to them because they have a passion for what they work on. It is important to many people to protect the things that they spend so much time and effort on especially when they are hoping to gain from it financially. Especially when there is intent to market the product produced, it is important to protect it in as many ways as possible to protect the investment of time, money and thought that have gone into its production. If you have ever created something that you think would be able to bring you financial benefit at any future moment you should know about copyright law and how it applies to you. Here is some valuable information that can allow you to copyright your work and protect it.
A copyright registration is more of a legal formality than a necessary procedure to protect something with a copyright. One of the main intents of the copyright registration is to make it publicly known and understood that a particular idea or products, written down and recorded, belongs to a specific individual or legal entity. Bur registration is not required to provide the benefits of copyrighting. A work is technically considered to be copyrighted when it is written down in any form by the original artist or author. Although registration is not required to make a copyright valid, it does provide several benefits. First of all, it established a public record of the claim a person has to a copyright. It can be verified where, when and by whom the copyright was registered. It is also required for any type of infringement suit to be filed in court. You cannot sue someone for copyright violation unless you have registered the copyright and that record can be traced to you or through legitimate channels to you from the original owner. It should be noted that this is required for works that originate in the US. International copyright laws are more complicated and technical sometimes than domestic ones. If the registration is done within five years of publication of whatever the work is, this establishes what is called prima facie evidence of the validity of the copyright. This information is also verified in the certificate. If the registration happens within 3 months of the publication or before, the copyright owner can receive statutory damages in court. If this is not the case, the only monies that can be claimed are actual, not potential, damages. Registration also allows the owner to register the copyright with the US Customs Service for protection against someone importing a similar or identical good from outside the US. Again, the issue of international copyright law is somewhat more complicated.
There are many different types of works that can be copyrighted and each has a different method and reasoning behind it. The first example is that of a literary work. It is a good idea to register your book, manuscript, online book, pamphlet, poem, business report, database, computer program or any other form of text. This can protect it from others using it for gain or not. One thing that is important to keep in mind when attempting to copyright something is that it needs to be considered a creative work, meaning it needs to have a physical form. For example, if you are particularly fond of the phrase, "that's cool" it doesn't give you any kind of rights associated with anyone else ever saying it. It could not be considered a creative work. But if you were to organize it in a particular way or to record your voice saying it, then that particular instance of the phrase being used could be copyrighted. Getting a copyright for most works is relatively simple and straightforward. There are basically three steps that need to be followed to register you copyright. First you need to fill out an application, second, pay the $45 fee for processing the request and third, mail a non-returnable copy of the work to the Library of Congress.
Another thing that people commonly copyright is sound recordings. These can include music, drama, lectures, or any other form of recorded voice whether analog or digital in format. This area has become particularly complicated with the advent of the computer and the digital playground of the internet. There have been many companies, such as Napster, that have been shut down or have had to dramatically change their operations to come into compliance with copyright laws. The legislation has also had to advance and take into consideration the extent of intellectual property that may never have been considered before.
Some other forms of work that can be registered include visual arts works. These may include photographs, paintings, sculptures, graphic art, applied art and all these forms whether they are two or three dimensional. Another form that could be considered under this category is that of architecture. Periodicals, newspapers, magazines and other similar types of publications can also be copyrighted. Some other things that may be eligible for copyright are performance art works which could include, music performances that are recorded, dramas and the accompanying script and music, pantomime, choreography, motion pictures or other forms of audiovisual works. The process is similar for most of these types of work but would evidently vary sometimes. It seems quite obvious that you can't actually send a dramatic work to the library of congress and it doesn't make much sense to require that something like a duplicate of a statue be sent to the Library of Congress either.
It's easy to copyright your work
Many people may never copyright something that they have produced because they believe that the process takes too long or is particularly difficult, but it is really much easier than many think. Copyright protections prevent anyone from reproducing or using your work without your permission. The actual author of the work owns the copyright unless they have passed it along legally to someone else. As mentioned before, it is not required for you to put a copyright notice on your work, but it can benefit you and keep your work more secure. Copyrights last for the life of the author and for 70 years after their death. You need to register your work with the United States Copyright Office by filing the simple form and paying the appropriate fee. The website where you can find more information directly on this source is www.copyright.gov. You can also check at the Copyright Office to see if something similar to what you are producing has already been registered.
Steps to copyrighting your work
Here are some steps you can follow to copyright your work. As soon as you have written your story or completed a sculpture or recorded you music, you technically have a copyright, but you are only entitled to some of the benefits of registration when you have formally registered the copyright. The first step is to add a copyright notice to the work you have produced. This can protect you from claims by other people that may copy the work that they didn't know it was proprietary. Of course it should be large enough and obvious enough to be visible and easily distinguishable. Many people use the copyright symbol, a "C" placed inside a circle to designate that it is copyrighted. Step two is to register the copyright as previously described. Step three involves consultation with a copyright attorney to make sure that procedure has been followed properly and that you are achieving the maximum amount of protection possible. The fourth step is to actually publish you work and make it available to other people to see or hear. This requires a few extra steps if you are working with a publisher to print a work you have produced. And finally, step five is to consider a Creative Commons license. This is a nonprofit organization that allows some rights to be public while maintaining others as strictly private.
It should be noted that there are circumstances where your work could be used under what is considered fair use reasons. Some of these are rather tricky ideas that involve some else using the work to perform theirs. One example that is fairly easy to understand is that of a film critic. They are allowed to show clips of the film to justify their claims about a particular thing being good or bad about a film to demonstrate why their opinion is valid. If the owner of the copyrights to the film were to only allow critics who had positive things to say, this would be monopolizing and be false representation about the work. The fair use provisions also allow for works to be used in instructional situations. For example it would be very difficult to have class on a particular subject or author if the copyrights of that author didn't allow their works to be read or discussed in a public setting. These provisions also allow for people to express themselves more freely.
Search our site for more information:
Rate This Post