There are a variety of works that qualify for protection under federal copyright regulations. In order to be copyrighted, a creation must be an original form of expression and fall into one of several categories, including visual art, movies, music, architecture, computer software, choreography and literature. Copyrights can be owned by the creator, someone who purchases the rights, an independent contractor, or an employer who commissioned the work from an employee. The following is a list of frequently asked questions regarding copyright law, registration and protection to help you in securing or defending a copyright.
1.Do I have to register my copyright in order for it to be valid?
p>Copyrights do not need to be registered in order to be valid. However, certain legal benefits are not available to unregistered copyrights. According to federal guidelines, a copyright is secured at the moment an original work is completed in tangible form. Creations that take shape over a period of time can also be copyrighted along the way. When a portion of a collective work is finished, it is considered copyrighted, even if the whole creation is yet to be completed. Registration is completed by contacting the U.S. Copyright Office and consists of a small fee and a simple form that can be submitted by mail or online. Group registrations and multi-part certifications are available at discounted rates for works that are an amalgamation of individual creative parts.
2.What are the advantages of a registered versus an unregistered copyright?
In order to file a lawsuit in federal court for copyright infringement, the owner must possess a legally-registered copyright. The outcome of an infringement suit may include up to $150,000 in statutory damages and the collection of attorney’s fees. Additionally, a court may order the infringer to cease duplication or distribution of the illegal copies.
3.Is there a time limit for registering my copyright?
A copyright may be registered prior to or upon completion of a qualifying work. In order to qualify for damages in the event of an infringement case, the registration must have been completed before the first infringement or within three months of completion of the work.
4.How long does my copyright registration last?
The length of time that a copyright affords protection is limited. For innovations brought into existence after 1977, shelter begins at the moment of completion and lasts for 70 years after the death of an author or the final surviving author of a joint work. Published works continue to receive protection for 95 years after the publication date. Works created by an employee for an employer or those “made for hire” continue to receive refuge for 120 years after the time that they were produced.
5.Can I renew my copyright registration?
Renewals are available for many copyrights. Unfortunately, changes in the law over time have made eligibility and renewal proceedings somewhat confusing. In 1992, amendments took effect that make copyright renewal automatic for works copyrighted after December 31, 1977. Works copyrighted prior to that, but no earlier than January 1, 1964 are also renewable, but a new application must be filed in order to finalize the renewal.
6.What happens to my copyright after I die?
Some family members may apply for a copyright renewal after the death of the original author. The widow, widower, child or children of a deceased author claim renewal, as can an executor or next of kin, depending on the state of the will. Copyrights may be assigned by a will and in cases where a will is absent, intestate succession procedures determine the assignment.
Registering a copyright is the best way to ensure protection under federal law and to establish public record. Although copyright naturally takes effect when a work is first created, legal proceedings of every kind run smoother when a registration is present.
The content on our website is only meant to provide general information and is not legal advice. We make our best efforts to make sure the information is accurate, but we cannot guarantee it. Do not rely on the content as legal advice. For assistance with legal problems or for a legal inquiry please contact you attorney.