Copyright Protection with LegalZone
Protect Your Creative Intellectual Property with LegalZone
What Is a Copyright?
A copyright is a means of legally protecting creative intellectual property. It’s documentation provided by the US government to establish ownership over something you’ve made.
What Does a Copyright Protect?
An official copyright legally protects you from plagiarism and gives you a public record of ownership for your work. Copying something word for word is an apparent infringement, but copyright can also protect you from others paraphrasing your whole idea.
The more creative a piece of work is, the more the copyright covers.
If a scientist obtains a copyright for a published study, this doesn’t prevent others from using her facts or finding. But it does prevent them from passing the work off as their own. Or, if they want to use a statistic that the original scientist got from a different source, they can’t copy the original scientist’s sentence verbatim.
On the other hand, a children’s book author with copyright is protected from others stealing the characters, the specific plot, the magical world they made up for the story, and any creatures they created. Without the author’s permission, the most someone can do with that story is read it to their kids.
What Can be Protected Under Copyright?
Intellectual properties that can be covered with copyright include:
- Blog Posts
Musical and Dramatic Work
- Graphic Design
- Computer Programs
It should be noted that general themes or historical events cannot be copyrighted. If you write a nonfiction book that only states facts about the reign of King Henry VIII of England with no hint of your personal opinion, other people can use those same facts with no issue as long as they don’t copy your exact words.
The same goes for general plotlines. If you create a screenplay adapted from Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing, you can’t copyright the plot of the Shakespearean play. A copyright can protect you from someone stealing your adaptation idea.
Intellectual properties that need to be protected by a trademark instead of copyright include:
- Name of the company or name of the products
- Logos designed for brand recognition (unless protected as an artistic work)
- Slogans and phrases
If you have an idea for a new product, you can protect that with a patent.
Do I Need to Register for Copyright Protection?
No, it isn’t required to register your intellectual property through the US Copyright Office.
However, let’s say you’re a songwriter and you play an original song at a bar in Nashville. A couple of weeks later, you’re out a different bar, and you hear someone playing your song. It turns out they loved your song so much they recorded it, learned it themselves, and started taking credit for it.
You can kindly ask them to stop playing your song, but there’s not much you can do without copyright protection if they decide to keep taking credit for your material.
Advantages of Registering Your Copyright
Dealing with any sort of copyright infringement is a lot smoother when you have documents proving your copyright. Your copyright:
- Gives you a public record of your ownership of your material
- Allows you to sue any copyright infringers who refuse to back down
- Entitles you to seek repayment from copyright infringers
- Enables you to register your ownership with US Customs in case of the importation of infringing copies
How Long Does a Copyright Protection Last?
Unless you’re obtaining copyright protection for something you made before January 1, 1978, your copyright will last the rest of your life plus seventy years after your death. If two or more people worked on a project, then the copyright lasts seventy years after the last creative on the team passes.
If a work is published anonymously with no record in the Copyright Office of the author’s actual name, the copyright license will last 95 years from the first publication or 120 from creation.
Congress can change the duration of copyright protection.
What Role Does a Copyright Notice Play?
The law regarding copyright notices changed on March 1, 1989, and it is no longer necessary for copyrighted materials to have a copyright notice.
But including a copyright notice adds an extra layer of legal protection if you file an infringement suit against someone.
What Is a Valid Copyright Notice?
An official copyright notice includes the word “copyright,” a lowercase c enclosed in a circle (©), the name of the material owner, and the date of publication.
Registering Your Copyright with LegalZone
If you’re the proud creator of something incredible, we want to help you protect it.
At LegalZone, we democratize access to the law and will get you set up with your copyright at a reduced cost. We’ve helped many individuals and companies save time and money by providing access to a wide range of legal templates.
If you’re ready to take the next steps to copyrighting your material, get started today with LegalZone, we make copyrighting your work as easy as possible.