“In order to protect yourself from IP theft, it’s important to know the basics about your rights. For writers, editors and publishers, this means taking a look at the basics of copyright: what it is, what it protects, and how to secure it. With this information in hand, you should be well prepared to defend yourself and your original works from the threat of IP theft.”
A statement from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office
Copyright is a form of intellectual property applicable to certain forms of creative work. Copyright is a legal right that grants the author of an original work exclusive rights for its use and distribution. These rights include reproduction, control over derivative works, distribution, public performance, and “moral rights” such as attribution.
Copyright protects “original works of authorship” that are fixed in a tangible medium, such as paper, canvas, concrete, magnetic storage, computer storage, DVDs, etc.
Copyrightable works include the following categories:
musical works, including any accompanying words
dramatic works, including any accompanying music
pantomimes and choreographic works
pictorial, graphic, and sculptural works
motion pictures and other audiovisual works
These categories are viewed broadly. For example, computer programs and most “compilations” may be registered as “literary works”; maps and architectural plans may be registered as “pictorial, graphic, and sculptural works.”
The notice for visually perceptible copies should contain all of the following three elements:
- The symbol © (the letter C in a circle), or the word “Copyright,” or the abbreviation “Copr.”
- The year of first publication of the work*
- The name of the owner of the copyright in the work, or an abbreviation by which the name can be recognized.
Example: © 2011 Company, LLC
* The year may be omitted where a pictorial, graphic, or sculptural work – with accompanying textual matter if any – is reproduced on greeting cards, postcards, stationery, jewelry, dolls, toys, or any useful article.
- Registration establishes a public record of the copyright claim.
- Registration is necessary before an infringement suit may be filed in court for damages.
- Registration establishes prima facie evidence in court of the validity of the copyright and of the facts stated in the certificate if registered within five years of publication.
- Statutory damages and attorney’s fees is available to the copyright owner in court actions if work is registered within three months of publication or prior to any infringement. Otherwise, only an award of actual damages and profits is available to the copyright owner.
- Registration enables the recording the registration with the U.S. Customs Service to protect against importation of infringing copies.
Whether the creative work you produce is a book, work of art, or design of a building, it should be protected. Others should not be able to copy or otherwise exploit your creativity without your consent.
Proper marking along with registration allows for enforcement so that others don’t pass your creativity off as their own and steal what should be rightfully yours. Let us help you handcraft and implement a copyright protection strategy that is customized to your unique combination of needs and goals.
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