GENERAL INFORMATION ON BUSINESS COPYRIGHTS
Copyright is a form of protection grounded in the U.S. Constitution and granted by law for original works of authorship fixed in a tangible medium of expression. Copyright protects original works of authorship including literary, dramatic, musical, and artistic works. Examples include software, poetry, novels, movies and songs. Copyright does not protect facts, ideas, systems, or methods of operation. However, it may protect the way these things are expressed.
Section 106 of the 1976 Copyright Act generally gives the owner of a copyright the exclusive right to do and to authorize others to do the following:
1. To reproduce the work in copies or phonorecords
2. To prepare derivative works based upon the work
3. To distribute copies or phonorecords of the work to the public by sale or other transfer of ownership, or by rental, lease, or lending
4. To perform the work publicly, in the case of literary, musical, dramatic, and choreographic works, pantomimes, and motion pictures and other audiovisual works
5. To display the copyrighted work publicly, in the case of literary, musical, dramatic, and choreographic works, pantomimes, and pictorial, graphic, or sculptural works
6. In the case of sound recordings, to perform the work publicly by means of a digital audio transmission.
For works created after January 1, 1978, copyright protection lasts for the life of the author plus an additional 70 years. For an anonymous work, a pseudonymous work, or a work made for hire, the copyright endures for a term of 95 years from the year of its first publication or a term of 120 years from the year of its creation, whichever expires first. For works first published prior to 1978, the term will vary depending on several factors.
Registration is not required. In fact, copyright exists from the moment the work is created and fixed in a tangible form that it is perceptible either directly or with the aid of a machine or device. However, registration is highly recommended because it serves as a public record of the copyright and gives the owner a legal presumption of ownership nationwide. Additionally, registration makes it possible to bring a claim of infringement since registered works may be eligible for statutory damages and attorney’s fees in successful litigation.
COPYRIGHT SERVICES AT RITTER LAW FIRM
- Preparation and Filing of Copyright Applications
- Preparation of Copyright Assignments and Contracts
- General Consultation on Copyright Issues