Protecting Your Copyright

Protecting Your Copyright

Your rights to your creative work are automatically upon creation of the work in a tangible form. You do not have to do anything to obtain these rights.

Copyright Notice

Prior to March 1, 1989, a copyright notice had to be placed on all copies of a work that were distributed to the public. For works published after March 1, 1989, the copyright notice is not legally necessary, but as a practical matter, it is best to use the notice.

Renewal

Copyrights no longer have to be renewed. They have one term, which is the life of the author plus seventy years.

Corrections

If, after your copyright has been issued, you discover an error, you should take the effort to correct it. Depending upon the type of error there are different methods for correcting it.

Obvious Errors

If the error is obvious, such as a missing information or transposed numbers in a date, you can write to the copyright office and ask that it be corrected. If it is something that they should have caught, there will be no charge to correct it.

Corrections and Amplifications

If the error involves incorrect or incomplete information on the application, you will need to file a form to amend the application. This form, and information on how to use it, is on the Copyright Office website.

Changes

If you changed your name or address, or if you changed the title of the work (without changing the contents), you should also file the corrections form. If you transfer the ownership of the copyright to someone else, you should record the transfer document at the Copyright Office.

Corrections

If, after your copyright has been issued, you discover an error, you should take the effort to correct it. Depending upon the type of error there are different methods for correcting it.

Obvious Errors

If the error is obvious, such as a missing information or transposed numbers in a date, you can write to the copyright office and ask that it be corrected. If it is something that they should have caught, there will be no charge to correct it.

Corrections and Amplifications

If the error involves incorrect or incomplete information on the application, you will need to file a form to amend the application. This form, and information on how to use it, is on the Copyright Office website.

Changes

If you changed your name or address, or if you changed the title of the work (without changing the contents), you should also file the corrections form. If you transfer the ownership of the copyright to someone else, you should record the transfer document at the Copyright Office.

Protecting Your Copyright in the Internet Age

The 21st century has produced new and practical ways to protect your copyright. Authors, artists, and creators are better able to assert their copyright than ever before. These solutions will help you make the most of your copyright in the age of the Internet.

Mark Your Work

Signing or marking your work is not a requirement to getting copyright protection. A copyright is yours once your original work is fixed in a tangible medium – such as when your book is saved as a file or printed. However, there are many benefits to stating that your work is copyrighted and noting your ownership. To mark a “visually perceptible” work (e.g. a book),  write the word “Copyright”, the year that your work was first published, and your name or the name of the entity that owns the work, in a location that gives reasonable notice of the claim. Instead of the word “Copyright” you may also use the ‘circle-c’ logo “©”, or the abbreviation Copr.

Example: ©xampleabb.

Some people think that everything posted on the internet is in the public domain, but that isn’t true. Marking your works provides a clear indication that your work is protected by copyright. The copyright mark may prevent infringement before it begins.

The Internet gives you new ways to mark your works. Metadata tags allow you to embed information within the code that displays your work. In addition to the copyright notice that you place on the page, metadata tags allow you to imbed copyright information within the code itself. For visual works, metadata tags can be especially important: you can prominently mark the work as copyright protected without interrupting the aesthetics of the image.

Register Your Copyright

You do not have to register a work to assert copyright, but registration does provide a number of benefits. Registering your work establishes a public record of your copyright claim, putting others on notice and helping defeat any possible claims of “innocent infringement.” And if registered within 5 years of publication, the registration becomes prima facie evidence of the facts stated within the registration certificate. This means that the burden of proof shifts from the copyright owner to the challenger of the copyright if such facts need to be proved in court. Moreover, and perhaps most importantly, registration is required in order to bring a suit for copyright infringement in Federal court.

Guard Your Copyright

If you want to protect your copyright then you have to be proactive in finding infringers and stopping them. Online copyright protection tools make it possible to find out when people take your written work and post it without your permission. A quick search should help you find some of these useful tools.

It is harder to use online search tools to find infringers for photos or other visual works. If you tag your visual works, however, it also gives you new options to find infringers. You can search for the tags to identify if someone is posting your images without your permission.

Enforce Your Copyright

The Digital Millennium Copyright Act gives copyright holders powerful tools to enforce their copyright. If an infringer refuses to take down infringing content then the internet service provider that hosts the site must block access to the infringing work. If someone infringes your copyright, notify them. If the infringer refuses to take it down, notify the internet service provider and they will block access to the infringing material.

To utilize all the modern rights available to creators, use these four solutions to protect your copyright.

  • 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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