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  Copyright - How Easy Is It to Protect Your Work?
by Jim Wilson

Copyright protection is becoming a hot issue for everyone. It seems that every time we click on the tv there is another feature about it. Click on the television and a popular actress or artist is talking about the importance of it. From Youtube and file sharing controversies to dvd duplication, copyright is all over. In this piece of writing we will explain copyright and as a basic overview, look at the reasons why you would copyright their work and list types of work that can be copyrighted.

Copyright explained

Copyright is a set of individual rights regulating the use of a individual expression of a idea or information. At its most general, it is really "the right to copy" an original creation. Almost always, these rights are of restricted duration. The mark for copyright is , and in some areas may alternatively be marked as either (c) or (C).

What does copyright protect?

Copyright may cover a variety of creative, academic, or artistic forms or "works". These include poems, theses, theatrical plays, and other literary works, movies, choreographic works (dances, ballets, etc.), musical compositions, audio recordings, paintings, sculptures, photographs, drawings, software, radio and television performances of live and other broadcasts, and, in some jurisdictions, industrial designs. Designs or industrial designs may have unrelated or overhanging laws applied to them in some regions. Copyright is one of the laws covered by the all encompassing term 'intellectual property'.

Copyright exclusions

Copyright law covers only the individual form or manner in which ideas or information have been produced, the "form of material expression". It is not designed or intended to cover the particular idea, concepts, facts, styles, or techniques which may be demonstrated by the copyright work.

For example, the copyright for the Donald Duck cartoon forbids unapproved individuals from distributing copies of the cartoon or making derivative works which mimic the Donald Duck cartoon.

But it does not prevent anyone from creating a cartoon duck. As long as it is different enough from Donald Duck. Other laws may require legal limitations on production or use where copyright doesn't. That's when trademarks and patents can be applied.

Length of copyright

Copyright has a variety of durations in different jurisdictions, with different categories of works and the length it exists also depends on whether your work is published or unpublished. In most regions the default length of copyright for many works is time of death of the author plus 50 years. The copyright always expires at the end of the year concerned, rather than on the specific date of the death of the author.

Public domain and how it applies

So when is a book is in the public domain? In the u.s., all books and other items published before 1923 have expired copyrights and are in the public domain, and all works created by the U.s. government, regardless of date, enter the public domain upon their creation.

But if the intended use of the book includes publication (or distribution of a film based on the book) outside the U.S., the arrangement of copyright around the world must be weighed.

If the author has been deceased more than 70 years, the work is in the public domain in most areas.


Under the United states Copyright Act, if you want to transfer ownership of your copyright it must be transferred in writing. No official transfer form is required. A basic document that specifies the work involved and the rights being allowed is admissible.

Non-exclusive grants (often called non-exclusive licenses) need not be in writing under United states law. A non-exclusive grant is when you allow someone to utilize your work by giving them your approval. For example, you allow a writer to include a paragraph of your book in his work. Your go-ahead can be oral or even implied based on the behavior of all the individuals involved.

Transfers of copyright ownership, including exclusive licenses should be formally recorded in the U.S. Copyright Office. While filing is not compulsory to make the grant effective, it offers important benefits, just like you would get from registering a real estate deed when you buy a home.

Now what?

You can download the paperwork yourself from the US Copyright Office at www.copyright.gov. This is the most economic option on hand, at the time of this writing the US Copyright Office usually charges $30 per application. You will need to settle on the right form for your work type, but the Copyright Office does a fairly good job of organizing their forms so users can find what they need. Browse through their online Help files for guidance on how to fill out the forms and what materials you will need to submit. With a little research and work you can do it all yourself. If you need more assistance there are a number of commercial websites that will help.

Copyright Jim R. Wilson. All Rights Reserved

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