Copyright Law – In Brief

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Copyright Law protects authors of “original works of authorship” and is provided by the laws of the United States (Title 17, U. S. Code). This protection extends to both published and unpublished works including literary, dramatic, musical, artistic, and certain other intellectual works. The owner of the copyright has the exclusive right to (or authorize others to):

  • Reproduce the work
  • Prepare derivative works from the original work
  • Distribute copies of the work to the public by sale, gift, rental, lease or lending
  • Perform or display the work publicly

Violation of any of these rights is illegal and prosecution is provided by U.S. copyright law. Registration with the Copyright Office is not required to protect the rights of the Creator of the work. The work is protected automatically upon creation. For example, the author of a book has copyright protection of his work as he types the manuscript into a computer, onto a typewriter keyboard or pens it by hand.

While not required for protection, registration of an original work may be made at any time with the Copyright Office and has the following advantages:

  • Establishes a public record of the copyright claim
  • An infringement lawsuit requires Copyright registration for U.S. works
  • If filed within the first five years of publication, registration establishes prima facie evidence in court of the copyright
  • If filed within three months of publication of the work, or before the work is infringed, statutory damages and attorney’s fees will be available to the copyright owner in successful court actions

Contact us today if you have a work you are considering protecting.