Copyright Law: Obtaining Copyright Protection

Metatags & Copyright Trademark Law

Copyright protection attaches immediately when the work is established in a fixed form. To obtain copyright protection you need not register or submit an application. There are, however, significant advantages to federal registration, which may warrant the copyright owner’s pursuit and compliance with the formalities of registering their copyright with the United States Copyright Office. Registration preserves statutory damages and the right to obtain attorneys fees if you prevail in a copyright infringement action. Registration is also required prior to suing in any federal court and provides some evidence of presumed ownership.

In addition, a copyright notice is also no longer required to maintain copyright protection. There remain, however, significant advantages under United States copyright laws to include such a notice on any published work. To be effective, the copyright notice must contain three elements:

  1. The letter “c” in a circle, such as “©,” the word “Copyright,” or the abbreviation “Copr.”
  2. The year of first publication of the work
  3. The full name of the owner of the copyright

In some countries, “All Rights Reserved” must appear and only the © is acceptable. A copyright notice might therefore appear as follows:

© Copyright 2001 XYZ, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

While it is impossible to copyright an idea, once the idea is expressed in a tangible form, the fixed tangible expression itself becomes subject to the copyright laws. Therefore, works of authorship fixed in digital storage devices are within the scope of copyright protection.

This and the following posts have been copied or adopted from A Legal Guide To The INTERNET – Sixth Edition, published through a collaborative effort by the Minnesota Department of Employment & Economic Development and Merchant & Gould.

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