Registering a copyright of your unique work is important and advantageous in the event that someone tries to use or publish your work without your permission.
In this article, we give a general overview of copyright law, particularly in the United States, and some general guidance.
Every country has its own copyright laws, but most are fairly similar in terms of the over-all objectives–to protect people’s intellectual property.
What is a Copyright?
A very good definition of what a copyright is can be found on the U.S. Copyright web site at https://www.copyright.gov/help/faq/faq-protect.html. It states,
“Copyright, a form of intellectual property law, protects original works of authorship including literary, dramatic, musical, and artistic works, such as poetry, novels, movies, songs, computer software, and architecture. Copyright does not protect facts, ideas, systems, or methods of operation, although it may protect the way these things are expressed.”
How Do I Copyright My Original Works?
In many countries, including in the United States and throughout the European Union, an author is automatically protected by copyright laws. This means that without the author’s permission, nobody else has the right to reproduce your work or make it public.
If somebody does reproduce or make your work public without your permission, you have the legal right to sue them to make them stop (to seek an “injunction”) and for any monetary damages you suffer as a result.
And although you don’t have to do anything to be protected by copyright law, you can file your works with the copyright division of your government. This is advised for any important works you create and which could cause you significant harm if somebody copied, reproduced and used publically.
In many jurisdictions, including in the United Sates, registering copyrighted material with the appropriate governmental entity is necessary before you can file a legal claim in court. Also, registering your copyright brings added benefits, including most importantly:
- It establishes a legal record of the fact that you are the author and that you own the copyright to your work, making it much easier to prove your case if somebody infringes on your copyright;
- In many jurisdictions, including in the United States, if you have promptly registered your copyright and you prove in court that somebody violated your copyright, they have to pay you not only for your damages, but also for your attorney’s fees and costs–this can be a substantial amount of money.
For more specific information on copyright laws of the United States, see: https://www.copyright.gov/
For more specific information on the copyright laws of the European Union and its member states, see: https://euipo.europa.eu/ohimportal/en/web/observatory/faqs-on-copyright
How Do I Register My Copyright?
Copyright registration is quite simple to do in most places, and often can be done online with your government’s copyright office.
In essence, you need to identify yourself, describe the work that you created and the date on which you created it, and you need to supply the work itself, such as a video, a music file, a writing, computer code or software, a painting, a photograph, or other work covered by copyright law of your jurisdiction.
Registering a copyright in the United Sates is done at https://www.copyright.gov/ For other countries, visit your government’s copyright office.
Can James Enterprises Help Me with Copyright Issues?
Roger Barrett James, Esq., the Managing Director of James Enterprises, is a California Licensed attorney and can assist you with your questions about American copyright law and provide information and legal advice. He can also assist you with registering a copyright.