Q: What does a
A: A copyright protects literary and artistic expression as well as
other types of media that derive their value from the particular manner
in which the information is expressed.
Q: What is the
difference between a copyright and a trademark or patent?
A: A copyright protects a works appearance or expression. You cannot
copyright an invention; you patent an invention. You cannot copyright
the name of product or tradename; but you can establish a trademark in a
product name or a tradename. On the other hand, you cannot patent or
trademark a book, but you can protect the expression of the idea in the
book with a copyright.
Q: What are
examples of the types of materials, which can be protected with
A: Books, musical works, plays, computer programs, paintings,
sculptures, and movies. Generally, any work, which includes artistic or
creative expression can be protected with copyright.
Q: What types of
works are generally not protected by copyright?
A: Titles, names, short phrases, slogans; familiar symbols or designs;
mere variations of typographical ornamentation, lettering, coloring;
mere listings of ingredients or contents.
Q: What are the
minimum requirements for a work to be protected by copyright?
A: A copyright arises in a work if at least a portion of the work is
original and the work includes some literary or artistic expression.
Q: When are
copyright rights established?
A: Copyright rights are established in a protectable material as soon as
the expression is "fixed in a tangible media." In other words,
the rights are established after
the protectable material is written,
printed, recorded or otherwise fixed.
Q: Should a
copyright notice be used with copyrightable material?
A: Yes. The notice on all publicly distributed copies of the work should
include: the 8 symbol (or the words: Copyright or Copr.), the year of
first publication and the name of the copyright owner.
Q: Is copyright
registration necessary for the protection of copyrightable material?
A: No, but it is recommended.
Q: How do you
register copyrightable material?
A: To register a work, a copyright application form must be completed and
submitted, together with the $30.00 application fee (as of 7/1/99) to the
US Library of Congress. Also, in general, if the work is unpublished, one
specimen of the best edition of the work must be submitted with the
application. If the work is published, two specimens of the best edition
must be submitted with the application.
Q: Is the
preparation of the copyright application complicated?
A: No, but the simplicity of the application(s) can be deceptive.
Important statutory rights can be lost if the work is not registered
properly and in a timely manner. While the Copyright Office provides
numerous brochures and pamphlets, which describe aspects of copyright law
and registration, they are written primarily from the viewpoint of the
Copyright Office and not particularly for the best interests of the
Q: What are the
benefits of a copyright registration?
A: There are several significant benefits in registering a work. First,
registration is necessary before a lawsuit can be filed against an
infringer. Second, registration creates a presumption that the copyright
claimed in the registration is valid. Third, if a work is registered before
an infringing act occurs, statutory damages, costs and attorney fees
may be recovered from the infringer.
Duration of Copyright:
Q: How long does
copyright protection last?
or After 1/1/78
life plus 50 years
living Author plus 50 years
Made for Hire; anonymous or pseudonymous
years from publication or 100 years from creation, whichever is
before 1/1/78 but published after 1/1/78
as for works created on or after 1/1/78
and Published before 1/1/78 or Registered before 1/1/78
years from the later of registration or publication; term could be
renewed for an additional 28 years. Any copyright still subsisting
after 1/1/78 could extend the renewal term to 47 years providing a
total life of 75 years.
Because of the complexities, risks and potential rewards involved with
intellectual property matters, it is strongly recommended that you seek
the advice of an intellectual property attorney to assist you with your