I. What is a copyright?
A copyright is a form of intellectual property right granted by
the federal government for "original works of authorship." The
copyright itself includes five basic rights regarding the use or
exploitation of the copyrighted work. With certain limitations, the
owner of a copyright has the exclusive right to 1) reproduce the
copyrighted work; 2) prepare derivative works; 3) distribute copies;
4) perform the copyrighted work publicly; and 5) display the
copyrighted work publicly.
II. What is the value of a copyright?
A copyright prevents others from benefiting unfairly from the
author's creativity. The value of the copyright is in requiring that
others either make their own investment of time, money, and
creativity to create their own work, or that they purchase the
rights to use the author's work.
III. How are copyrights obtained?
A copyright exists under federal law once a work is fixed in some
tangible form. However, to maximize protection under the copyright
law, place a copyright notice on each copy of the work. Proper
notice consists of three elements: 1) the symbol ©, the word
copyright or an abbreviation; 2) the year of first publication; and
3) the name of the owner of the copyright.
A copyright may be registered with the federal government by filling
out a simple form, paying a nominal fee, and submitting a deposit of
the work. Registration is required in order to bring a suit to stop
infringement. Also, prompt registration may entitle the copyright
owner to several advantages in the event that its copyrights are
infringed. Copyrights last for the lifetime of the author plus 70
years or for 95-120 years if the work is made for hire for a
IV. What types of things qualify for copyright protection?
Any original work of authorship that is fixed in some tangible
form of expression qualifies for copyright protection. "Works" such
as literary, musical, dramatic, pictorial, motion pictures, and
sound recordings are all protectable. Computer programs, for
example, are considered literary works.
V. What does not qualify for copyright protection?
Works that consist entirely of common information or matters of
common knowledge are not protectable by copyright. For example,
standard calendars and the common markings on rulers or measuring
tapes lack the requisite originality or authorship. Ideas, concepts,
or procedures alone are not considered works of authorship and
cannot be protected by copyright.
VI. Internet connection:
Copyright counseling and registration
Representation in copyright related transactions including assignments and licensing
Copyright related mediation and litigation