I can handle all of your copyright needs, including application, licensing, sales, and infringement issues.
What is a Copyright?
Copyright is a form of protection provided to creators of “original works of authorship,” including literary, dramatic, musical, artistic, and certain other intellectual works. This protection is available for both published and unpublished works.
Copyright protection seeks to promote creativity by protecting the creative expression of ideas for a limited time period. The foundation of U.S. copyright law is in the U.S. Constitution.
What Kinds of Work Can Be Protected by Copyright?
The various types of authorship or creative expression that can be protected are:
Literary, musical and dramatic works (such as a musical like Jersey Boys)
Graphic, pictorial and sculptural works (such as a painting by Andy Warhol)
Sound recordings (such as a recording of The Beatles’ Yesterday on a CD)
Computer programs (such as Quickbooks)
Choreographic works and pantomimes (such as the dance steps from a Broadway production of Grease)
Motion pictures and other audiovisual works (such as the movie, The Godfather)
Architectural works (such as the Disney Concert Hall) and
Compilations and derivative works (such as a CD of 80’s songs)
What Does Copyright Not Protect?
Copyright does not protect single words, short phrases or mere ideas — but some of these may be protectable by trademark or patent law.
What Specific Rights Does a Copyright Owner Have?
A copyright generally gives the owner the exclusive right to do the following:
• Reproduce the work in copies or sound recordings (such as making copies of a DVD);
• Make derivative works based upon the work (such as writing a sequel to a book);
• Distribute copies or sound recordings of the work to the public by sale or other transfer of ownership, or by rental, lease, or lending (such as selling copies of a painting);
• Perform the work publicly, in the case of literary, musical, dramatic, and choreographic works, pantomimes, and motion pictures and other audiovisual works (such as performing a ballet in a theater);
• Display the work publicly, in the case of literary, musical, dramatic, and choreographic works, pantomimes, and pictorial, graphic, or sculptural works, including the individual images of a motion picture or other audiovisual work (such as displaying a sculpture at a museum); and
• In the case of sound recordings, to perform the work publicly by means of a digital audio transmission (such as broadcasting a song through Internet radio).
A copyright owner can give others the right to do any of the above through a written license agreement.
Since I Gain Copyright Protection Simply by Creating an Original Creative Work, Why Should I Register a Copyright?
You may have heard that copyright protection is obtained the moment an original work is fixed in a tangible medium, such as when a story is written on paper. That is true. But unless you have a registered copyright, you can’t file a lawsuit for copyright infringement. Your work does not have to be registered at the time of the infringement, but it does need to be registered by the time you file a lawsuit.
You may gain certain additional rights — including the right to collect extra money from an infringer — if you register your work within three months of initial publication (generally considered to be when copies of your work are first distributed to the public).
Registration also allows you to register the copyright with U.S. Customs to prevent the importation of infringing copies of your work. This means, for example, that if you own the copyright to a certain painting, you may be able to prevent someone else from importing posters of the painting by registering it with U.S. Customs.
For works created on or after January 1, 1978 copyright protection lasts for the life of the author plus 70 years. For works created before January 1, 1978 different rules apply.
What is the Difference between a Copyright and Trademark?
Registration of a copyright with the U.S. Copyright Office protects original works of authorship that are in a “tangible medium” – something you can touch or buy. For example, a song on a CD, an oil painting on canvas, or a novel. Copyright protection can be given to many kinds of works, including literary, dramatic, musical, artistic works, and more. Subject to some limited “fair use” exceptions, the owner of a copyright generally has the exclusive right to reproduce, distribute, perform, display, or license a work and derivatives of the work for a specified period of time.
Registration of a trademark with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office protects brand names, designs, or logos that distinguish the goods or services of one provider or manufacturer from the goods or services of another provider or manufacturer. A trademark generally allows its owner to exclude others from using a confusingly similar trademark. Having a registered trademark may also decrease the likelihood that another party will file a trademark infringement lawsuit against you. For more information on trademarks, see the trademark page.
How Do I Apply for a Copyright?
An attorney can file your copyright application for you. If you prefer, you can find an attorney to show you how to file your own applications. They are fairly simple to file. To secure a registration, you need to complete the correct federal form and mail it to the U.S. Copyright Office with a certain number of copies of the work, along with a $45 fee for each copyright application; or you can complete it online and pay a $35 filing fee to the U.S. Copyright Office.
Article on Copyright Law for Visual Artists
Some proposed laws really would make a difference for visual artists. See the article I published in the Los Angeles Daily Journal on copyright law for visual artists.