Laws of Copyright

Laws of Copyright

Infringement

A suit for copyright infringement must be brought in federal court. In general, you have three years from the most recent infringement to sue. Your copyright must be registered with the U.S. Copyright Office before you can sue anyone for infringement.

A defendant in a copyright action can claim that he or she created the work independently, or that any copying consisted of sections which are not copyrightable, such as facts or news. In addition, a defendant can claim he or she is making "fair use" of the work, which includes criticism, comment, parody, news, research and scholarship. In determining fair use, the court examines a variety of factors, including whether the use was for profit, how much was copied and the economic effect of the use.

Since 1989, a copyright symbol (C) has not been required in order to protect a copyright. However, it does put people on notice that your work is copyrighted and weakens any defense of "innocent infringement." A person may use the (C) symbol even without registering the work with the U.S. Copyright Office.

In addition, the U.S. has copyright relations with more than 100 countries throughout the world. As a result, a U.S. copyright is recognized and honored in most industrialized nations.

 
  • Definition of a Copyright
    A copyright is a form of protection provided by the laws of the United States to authors of "original works of authorship." This includes literary, dramatic, musical, artistic and certain other creative works. Material not protected by copyright (or otherwise protected) is available for use by...
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  • Works Protected by Copyrights
    A copyright gives certain exclusive rights to persons who create original works of authorship, including literary, dramatic, musical, artistic and certain other intellectual works. This protection is available to both published and unpublished works. Copyrightable works include the following...
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  • Advantages of Registering Your Copyright
    The advantages of registering a copyright include the following:
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  • Copyright Holders
    In general, only the creator (the "author") of an original work (or someone to whom the copyright has been lawfully transferred) can register a copyright. However, if the author prepared the work within the scope of his or her employment or if the work falls into certain special categories and was...
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  • Scope of Copyright Protection
    Copyright protection generally gives the copyright's owner the exclusive right to do the following:
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  • Obtaining Copyright Protection
    The securing of copyright protection is frequently misunderstood. Copyright is secured automatically when a work is created. A work is "created" when it is fixed into a book, tape or electronic medium for the first time. For example, a song can be fixed in sheet music, a digital tape or both. No...
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