Obtaining a Copyright

A copyright registration allows you to claim ownership
of your original work.

Overview

A copyright registration establishes a public record, which can help prove ownership and is required if you ever need to sue for copyright infringement. When a work contains a valid copyright notice, an infringer cannot claim in court that s/he wasn’t aware the work was copyrighted. That leaves you with a greater chance to win a copyright infringement case and spend much less litigating in the process by registering for a copyright. A work becomes copyrighted when it is fixed in a tangible medium of expression.

There are categories of work that fall under this definition:

-Literary works
-Musical works, including the accompanying words
-Dramatic works, including the accompanying music
-Pantomimes and choreographic works
-Pictorial, graphic and sculptural works
-Motion pictures and other audiovisual works
-Sound recordings
-Computer software
-Architectural works

These are types of work unable to obtain copyright protection:

-Works not fixed in a tangible form of expression (ex. something said but not recorded)
-Ideas, methods, principles and systems
-Titles, names, and slogans
-Works found in the public domain
-Works that are strictly informational and contain no authorship
-Federal government works 

Benefits of legal advice

Get a greater understanding

Your copyright lawyer will answer any questions you have regarding your original works. You’ll also have a chance to learn about other forms of IP protection like trademarks, patents, and confidentiality agreements.

More likely to be approved 

Don’t leave the chance of having your copyright rejected. An experienced attorney knows how to thoroughly search and already knows what to include and what not to include, saving you time and money.

Prevent future issues

Receive proactive legal risk management that will help you avoid problems before they arise by tapping into senior attorneys with considerable business experience.

FAQ

What’s is a copyright registration?

Copyright is a form of protection for “original works of authorship” including literary, dramatic, musical, and artistic works, such as poetry, novels, movies, songs, computer software, and architecture.

Do I need to register my copyright to have rights?

Not necessarily. There are common law copyright rights, but they’re limited and can be difficult to prove. Plus, if you ever want to enforce your copyright in court then you have to register it with the U.S. Copyright Office beforehand.

Can foreigners register their works in the U.S.?

Any work that is protected by U.S. copyright law can be registered, which includes works of foreign origin. All works that are unpublished, regardless of the nationality of the author, are protected in the United States.

How long does a copyright last?

It depends on several factors, including whether it has been published, and, if so, the date of first publication. As a general rule, for works created after January 1, 1978, copyright protection lasts for the life of the author plus an additional 70 years. Also, works created on or after January 1, 1978, are not subject to renewal registration.

Why should I use a lawyer over a “do it yourself” website?

Because doing it right is priceless. Do it yourself sites have limitations, largely in that their forms are standardized and there’s a good chance necessary information particular to your copyright will be left out. You also miss out on the ability to have an attorney examine your rights to other IP you may have. Also, an attorney will take care of all communications with the U.S. Copyright Office.
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