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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
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).
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
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.
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published or unpublished.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.
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
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
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.
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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