The Basics Of Copyright

A copyright is concerned with the protection of an author's work. This is a type of intellectual property that is distinctly different from a trademark, which concerns protection symbols, or a patent, which concerns protection of inventions, or a trade secret, which is concerned with the protection of secret business information.

Copyright law does not only protect book authors, but also authors of music, film, art and many other types of creators. Works protected under copyright law are tangible works.

Examples could include:

  • Books
  • Magazines
  • Songs
  • Movies
  • Paintings
  • Speeches

Who can get their work copyrighted?

Any tangible original work that can be copyrighted is automatically copyrighted. If someone tries to pass of your work as theirs, you could show that it was your work first using emails, certified mail, photographs or videos. If you can show a date proving that you made the work first, you'll obtain automatic copyright.

You can register a work with the U.S. Copyright Office, it's not necessary, but may be beneficial if you're famous or a big business that needs to protect their interests.

What are the requirements to copyright work?

  • The work must be authored.
  • The work must be original.
  • The work must be tangible.

The laws define the rights that the author's have regarding their work, such as:

  • Who can buy the work;
  • Who can sell the work;
  • Who can distribute the work (think of music);
  • or, Who is allowed to make copies of the work or create derivative works.

What does Copyright law does not protect work?

It doesn't protect overarching ideas that are within a piece. Basically, if someone is inspired by some intangible feeling or message within the piece, they can create their own work from those ideas.


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