What you should Understand about Intellectual Property: The Basics of Copyright

  • June 27, 2024
  • Blog

A basic understanding of copyright is helpful for any business owner, artist or creator to grasp. Copyright is the protection of intellectual property, or original works of authorship, which include many things such as literature, music, art of all kinds, movies, computer code and more. While business owners all have to deal with trademark if they want to protect their business design/logos, copyright can specifically help by protecting the website, ads and other forms of written content put out by the business. So, where do we start?

Copyright begins the moment the work is created, or in legalese, “fixed in any tangible medium of expression, now known or later developed, from which they can be perceived, reproduced or otherwise communicated, either directly or with the aid of a machine or device.” In other words, a song in your head is not copyrighted, but as soon as you write down the notes on paper, or record it, copyright protection begins.

So, if copyright protection is created the moment the work is created, then why does anyone bother to file for copyrights? Well, registration (or a denial of registration) is a requirement for bringing a copyright claim into federal court. Statutory damages and attorneys’ fees can also be contingent on the fact that the plaintiff owns a copyright. There are a handful of other benefits that come with registration; although not everyone needs a copyright registration, if there is ever a doubt that there will be litigation over your intellectual property, you should typically register it.

Registration can be costly, but it is important to do it right. There’s a common misconception known as the poor man’s copyright, where some assume that mailing themselves or notarizing a copy of their work will serve as an adequate substitute for registering the copyright at the U.S. copyright office. Although not completely void of value as it can be used as evidence that a work was created at a certain time, it does not offer the protections or benefits that registration does.

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  • Blog

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