$45 to submit a hard copy
If you’ve created an original work of literature, music or art, American law provides a copyright that prohibits others from stealing it and presenting it as their own. A copyright protects your legal ownership of original work you develop so that no one else can copy your creation in its exact form. This status automatically exists from the moment your work is tangible, and there is no need to file to request a copyright. There are, however, some benefits to formally registering your work with the federal government’s Copyright Office. The main advantage to taking this extra step is that if you ever need to take someone to court for violating your copyright, it will greatly help your case to have this protection officially recorded.
Who Needs A Copyright
You can copyright many types of works, including: literary, musical and dramatic efforts, as well as pantomimes, motion pictures, choreography, photographs, and other forms of art, graphics and sculptural work. Further, both published and unpublished works are protected under the copyright laws. If you register a copyright for an unpublished work that later becomes published, you are not required need to refile your copyright. The work continues to be protected under your original application, although you may register an updated copyright for the latest edition, if you so desire.
The Benefits Of Registering
You don’t have to register a copyright, since one already exists on your work right from the outset of your creation. But if you do decide to register, this makes your copyright public information and provides you with a certificate that serves as proof of your ownership. In addition, if a registered copyright is violated and you are able to prove it, you may be entitled to collect damages and to also have your attorney’s fees reimbursed.
Your Exclusive Rights
With a copyright, you hold the exclusive rights to your work. With this right, you can reproduce the work (such as by making photocopies, print runs and recordings), produce other work based on your original idea or theme, distribute or sell your work, display it publicly or perform it publicly. A copyright also allows you to give permission to others to do any of these things with your work.
What Isn’t Protected
While many works are protected under the federal copyright laws, there are some items that do not qualify for this status. These include improvised works that haven’t been written or recorded (such as an impromptu speech), titles, short phrases and slogans, ideas, principles and discoveries and work that is made up of only common information without anything original being added (such as calendars, rulers and height charts).