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Copyright Law

Answers to Frequent Asked Questions

1.      Copyright (CR) protects original works of authorship including literary, dramatic, musical, and artistic works such as poetry, novels, movies, songs, computer software and architecture.

2.      Copyright does NOT protect facts, ideas, systems, or methods of operation

3.      Copyright may protect the way things are expressed.

4.      Copies of all works under copyright protection that have been published in the U.S. are required to be deposited in the Copyright Office within three months of the date of first publication.

5.      Reasons to Register Copyright

a.       To have facts on public record and certificate of registration.

b.      Eligible for statutory damages and attorney’s fees.

c.       Prima facie evidence if registered w/in 5 years of publication.

6.      Registering Copyright

a.       Application Form

b.      $30 fee

7.      Deposit

a.       Unpublished – one copy

b.      Published – two copies

c.       Photographs for visual works

8.      Works created after January 1, 1978 are not subject to renewal.

9.      Architectural works became subject to CR protection on December 1, 1990.

10.  Only the transferee (by will, by inheritance) can register CR in a diary.  Copyright is the right of the author of the work or the author’s heirs or assignees, not the one who owns the physical work itself.

11.  The creator of an original expression in a work is the author.  The author is also the owner of CR unless there is a written agreement by which the author assigns the CR to another person or entity, such as a publisher.  In cases of works made for hire the employer or commissioning party is considered to be the author.

12.  Publication

a.       The distribution of copies or phonorecords of a work to the public by sale or other transfer of ownership, or by rental, lease, or lending.  The offering to distribute copies or phonorecords to a group of persons for purposes of further distribution, public performance, or public display constitutes publication.  A public performance or display of a works does not itself constitute a publication.

b.      Publication occurs on the date on which copies of the work are first made available to the public.

c.       Publication is not necessary for CR protection.

d.      Publication occurs at the discretion and initiative of the CR owner.

13.  The owner may transfer all or part of the rights in a CR work to another.

14.  Not copyrightable:

a.       Names

b.      Titles

c.       Slogans

d.      Short phrases

e.       Ideas

f.        Concepts

g.       Systems

h.       Methods