According to the U.S. Copyright Office, copyrights protect original works in tangible physical mediums. This includes books, movies, songs, software, and other creative works.
This process prevents others from taking things you created and profiting off them. It also ensures you have legal recourse in the event a person does try to present your work as their own. This guide explains a few of the basics, so you can make good decisions about intellectual property.
What is the difference between copyrights, trademarks, and patents?
Copyrights only protect creative works in their physical forms. To protect an idea, concept, or process, you must use a patent. Additionally, trademarks are used to protect symbols, words, or designs.
Do copyrights extend to other countries?
Copyrights developed in the U.S. extend to many countries throughout the world. Conversely, many other countries’ copyrights are also accepted here. To determine whether a specific country accepts American copyright protections, you must research that nation’s existing laws regarding the issue.
Is copyright protection automatic?
Yes. Once your work is rendered in a physical medium, it is considered authored and owned by you.
What are the benefits of copyrights?
While copyrights are automatic once an authored work has been transcribed into a physical medium, you are still encouraged to register the work with the copyright office. You will receive a certificate of registration, which communicates that you are the owner of the work. If you do end up in court, registration ensures you can seek damages against any parties that have profited off your work without authorization.
A successful creative work can become quite profitable, which is why registering the work is so important. If you have questions, an attorney experienced with copyright law can help you make the best decisions.