Disclaimer: This article does not constitute legal advice, nor does it create any attorney-client relationship. This article expresses the personal views of the author and does not represent the views of the author’s clients.
What is copyright?
Simply put, copyright is the exclusive right that is granted to an author of an original work to copy or reproduce his or her work in any manner that he or she deems proper. Under United States copyright law, authors have the right to reproduce their work; prepare derivative works; distribute copies of their work through sale, rental or lease; and perform or display their work publicly. Copyright law allows authors of original works to profit from their works by providing them with legal recourse if infringement takes place.
What is protected by copyright law?
Copyright law protects all original works of authorship fixed in any tangible medium of expression. The following types of original works, so long as fixed in a tangible medium, are protectable under copyright law:
1) literary works;
(2) musical works, including any accompanying words;
(3) dramatic works, including any accompanying music;
(4) pantomimes and choreographic works;
(5) pictorial, graphic, and sculptural works;
(6) motion pictures and other audiovisual works;
(7) sound recordings; and
(8) architectural works.
For example, this article is protected under copyright law as it is original, fixed on to a webpage, and falls under one of the above-mentioned categories. Therefore, in the event of an infringement, I, the author, will have legal recourse to enforce my rights.
Should you register your copyright?
Technically, a copyright exists as soon as a work is fixed in a tangible medium, which is why many authors neglect to register their work. However, copyright registration becomes crucial if and when an infringement takes place. A registration provides strong evidence in support of the author of the work and allows him/her to pursue an infringement action for damages and attorney’s fees.
Does copyright protection last forever?
As with many laws, United States copyright laws have been changed over time. It is important to be informed of updates. Currently, for works created after January 1, 1978, copyright protection in the United States lasts for the life of the author plus seventy years, unless the work is a “work for hire,” in which case the term of the copyright is ninety-five years from the date of publication or 120 years from the date of creation, whichever expires first. After that period, the work enters the public domain.