What is copyright?
Copyright is a form of intellectual property that grants creators protection over “original works of authorship” including literary, dramatic, musical, artistic, and other specific intellectual works.
What can copyright protect?
Many types of works can be protected by copyright:
- Literary, musical and dramatic works (AKA a book by David Eggers)
- Graphic, pictorial and sculptural works (AKA a piece of street art by Banksy)
- Sound recordings (AKA a CD by Mumford & Sons)
- Computer programs (AKA Photoshop)
- Choreographic works and pantomimes (AKA a dance routine in the musical The Book of Mormon)
- Motion pictures and other audiovisual works (AKA The Hangover, Part II)
- Architectural works (AKA Coit Tower) and
- Compilations and derivative works (AKA a book of poetry featuring several San Francisco poets)
What can’t copyright protect?
Copyright cannot protect single words, short phrases or ideas.
As a copyright owner, what are my rights?
Copyright owners have the exclusive right to do the following:
- Make copies or sound recordings of the work (AKA print copies of a digital photograph file);
- Make derivative works (AKA writing a screenplay of a book);
- Publicly distribute copies or sound recordings of the work for sale or other transfer of ownership, or by rental, lease, or lending (AKA sell copies of CD);
- In the case of literary, musical, dramatic, and choreographic works, pantomimes, and motion pictures and other audiovisual works, perform the work publicly (AKA play music in a club);
- In the case of pictorial, graphic, or sculptural works, display the work publicly (AKA show a painting in a gallery); and
- In the case of sound recordings, perform the work publicly via a digital audio transmission (AKA play music over internet radio).
A copyright owner can give others the right to do any of the above through a license agreement.
Why should I register a copyright?
It’s true that you have copyright protection the moment you finish your work. But registering your work within three months of first publication or prior to the infringement gives you additional rights – including making it much easier to collect money from the infringer.
How do I apply for a Copyright?
To apply for a copyright, you file the appropriate form, pay the fee, and send copies of your work to the U.S. Copyright Office. These forms can be prepared by an attorney, or you can file the form on your own.
- U.S. Copyright Law
- U.S. Copyright Office
- U.S. Copyright Office Regulations
- U.S. Copyright Registration Forms
- Registration Fee Schedule
- Copyright Office Online Search
- Copyright Society of the U.S.A.
- Berne Convention (International Copyright Treaty)
- Universal Copyright Convention (International Copyright Treaty)
- World Intellectual Property Organization
What is a trademark?
A trademark is a symbol, word, or design used to identify the source of goods or services.
What is trademark infringement?
Trademark infringement is when one party’s trademark creates a “likelihood of confusion” with another party’s trademark who has senior rights. Determining who has senior rights and if there is a likelihood of confusion can be complex, and it’s often a good idea to consult with an attorney.
How do I choose a trademark?
Selecting the right trademark is important. Factors to consider:
- Generally the first user (AKA senior user) has priority to use the mark in commerce.
- “Arbitrary” or “suggestive” trademarks are considered stronger trademarks, while weaker trademarks are descriptive of the goods or services they represent.
How do I apply for a trademark?
Short version: choose a trademark, conduct a trademark search, and apply for a trademark (if the search results are clear).
However, this often is complex process. And since failing to obtain a trademark can be devastating for a company, having an experienced trademark attorney on the team is often crucial.