What is a copyright?
Copyright is a form of protection provided to the authors, composers, artists, or programmers of "original works of authorship" including literary, dramatic, musical, artistic, and certain other intellectual works, both published and unpublished. A copyright gives the owner the exclusive right to reproduce the copyrighted work, to prepare derivative works, to distribute copies or phonorecords of the copyrighted work, to perform the copyrighted work publicly, or to display the copyrighted work publicly. A copyright protects the form of expression, but does not protect ideas or concepts. For example, a word for word copying of a book would violate its copyright, but a translation of those same ideas or concepts in your own words would not.
Additionally, violation of a copyright is a strict liability cause of action. This means that the mere copying of something that is copyrighted is a violation and would give rise to a cause of action (the owner may sue the violator). The person copying does not need to know that there is a copyright on what they are copying, nor does the person copying need to have a malicious intent to copy. The mere fact that a copyrighted work was copied is enough to allow the holder of the copyright to bring a lawsuit against the violator.
Do I need a copyright?
A copyright automatically arises as soon as the work is created. As soon as the artistic expression is in a fixed form (i.e. written down, recorded, etc) a copyright is created and can be legally protected. Even though you have automatic rights, in order for the copyright to be recognized by the government and pursue litigation for infringement, the copyright must be registered.
Even though you may not be pursuing litigation, or you think you may never have to pursue litigation, a copyright registration is still a wise move to further protect your work. Some reasons to register your copyright include: having the copyright on public record (puts others on notice that you have a copyright in your work), and also because you could be eligible for higher damages and may be able to recover attorney's fees if litigation should arise
How do I register my copyright?
A copyright is registered through the federal government. An application along with the appropriate filing fee and a copy of the work to be registered must be submitted. Currently, it takes about 8 to 13 months for the application to be processed through to a completed registration. Let Hurchalla Law file for your protection today
Outside links for more information
U.S. Copyright Office
Library of Congress
U.S. Patent and Trademark Office
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