Copyright is simply the type of protection that is based off of the Constitution of the US., and granted by the laws covering original authored works that are able to be seen in some tangible form which can be expressed. Copyright’s protection is available for both unpublished and published pieces.
A copyright is also a type of property law for intellectual property. This allows it to cover items that were authored originally. This can include music, architecture, dramatic works, and literary items, including, but not limited to, movies, novels, songs, poetry, and even computer software. However, items such as systems, ideas, operational methods, or facts are not covered under a standard copyright. In some specific cases, a copyright could protect the form that these items are expressed through.
A patent is designed to protect a discovery or invention. A trademark is designed to protect a symbol, specific words or phrases, or particular designs that could identify the origin of different services or goods which distinguishes that company from the rest. The only part of these that may be protected under any type of copyright protection is possibly the way specific ideas or discoveries are expressed.
We recommend you register for a copyright for numerous reasons. Reason one is for the public record and the registration certificate proving your ownership of the work. Reason two is the fact that your work may be protected, allowing you to potentially receive statutory damages, should successful litigation occur down the line. Finally, reason three is that any work that is registered within five (5) years of its original publication, a court of law considers the registration prima facie evidence.
Some people create their work and then send themselves a copy trying to establish a date of origin. This is what most people are referring to when discussing a ‘poor man’s copyright’. However, the law does not provide any protection as a copyright, and it does not provide you or your work the same protections that registration would provide.
If a piece of original work is able to fall under the protection of the US. Copyright law, then it is allowed to be registered, including many types of work that are from a foreign origin. Any work that is left unpublished can be protected under the US. Copyright laws, and the nationality of the work’s original author is notwithstanding. If a work is originally published within the US. or within a company that the US. has a copyright treaty with, the work may be registered within the United States Copyright Office. The same goes for works that are penned by authors which have a US. citizenship or citizens of countries the US. has a copyright treaty with.
Most countries around the world have copyright treaties with the United States, allowing most countries to honor the copyrights of others. It is up to the discretion of the copyright owner to determine if the US. has a treaty with a specific country before filing for a copyright registration.
Any original work you put up on a website may have copyright protection available. This can include your content, photos, artwork, and some other types of authorship directly protected under a copyright.
Currently, domain names are not protected under copyright laws. The ICANN, or Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, will administer the assigned domain protection through their accredited registration system.
Copyright protection does not require publication first.
Under 17 U.S.C. section 407, the mandatory deposit places the requirement on the owner of the sole right to distribute or copyright to deposit two copies within the first three (3) months after publication. These must be complete copies of the best edition of the work, given to the Library of Congress for the United States’ Library.
There are many determining factors when it comes to how long a copyright’s term will last. Publication is one of the strongest factors that need to be considered. Typically, works that were created since January 1, 1978 are protected as long as the original author is alive, plus 70 years after the author’s death. Anonymous works, work created for hire, or pseudonymous works are allowed protection of 120 years since creation, or 95 years after initial publication, whichever terminates first. If the work was published before 1978, terms have many more factors that are considered.
Luckily, there is not. Anything created since January 1, 1978 has no renewal requirement. Anything published prior to 1978 has the option of renewal every 28 years, however, the legal advantages it can provide often make it well worth it.