Copyright exists from the moment a creative work is fixed in a tangible medium. But without copyright registration, important tools for protecting the work are unavailable. This article describes them for creatives and explains the importance of registering your copyrights.

Copyright Protections

Copyright is a form of intellectual property law and protects original works of authorship including literary, dramatic, musical, and artistic works. These works include songs, music, novels, movies, software, and poems. Copyright does not protect facts, ideas, systems, or methods of operation, although it may protect the way these things are expressed.

Fair Use

A major restriction US law places on copyright is the doctrine of “fair use.” This legal doctrine allows excerpts of a copyrighted work to be reproduced for purposes of criticism and comment, news reporting, scholarship and research. There are no specific limits to the amount that can be reproduced before it infringes on copyright. However, the law instructs courts to consider the “character” of the use, such as if it’s for commercial purposes or educational purposes.

Who Benefits From Copyright protection?

As a general rule, copyright benefits the author of the work or the person that created or paid for the creation of work. Business owners should ensure that the company’s employment contracts and service agreements with vendors contain an IP clause, providing for the assignment to the company of all copyright in created works, in the broadest sense possible. In this regard, the law sets forth precise rules which must be respected. It should be noted that there is a significant exception for computer programs.

How Do I File for a Copyright?

To register a work, you must submit a completed application form, and a nonreturnable copy or copies of the work to be registered. Here’s the official “Copyright Basics” form and you must use US Copyright offices the online form SL-35.

What are the Fees for Filing for a Copyright?

Per Circular 4 from the US Copyright Office, fees to file for a copyright can cost up to several hundreds of dollars because of the cost of researching, filing forms, mailings and registration. However, a poorly prepared copyright can actually cost you thousands in lost revenue if you don’t properly protect your intellectual property. Attorney Michael Ahmadshahi helps businesses with file for and pursue copyright and trademark infringement lawyer in Orange County.