Copyright is a form of intellectual property that grants the creator of an idea or work of art exclusive rights to the material. In order to copyright material it must be an original work and must be tangible. A copyright begins when the work was created and lasts until 70 years after the creator’s death. Below is a list of the categories and examples of the different materials that can be copyrighted.

Artistic: maps, graphs, illustrations, charts or images

Dramatic: radio, television, plays, accompanying music, and film scripts

Literacy: books, song lyrics, computer software, short stories or journal entries

Musical: scores and accompanying words

Architectural: floor plans, blueprints, general drawings, and designs of buildings

Examples of some items that cannot be protected by copyright law are:

  • Work that is standard property and has no original authorship (ie: calendars, weight charts, etc.)
  • Names, titles, slogans or phrases
  • Familiar symbols and designs
  • Lists of items (ie: ingredients or items)
  • Facts, ideas, systems or methods of operation

The owner of material has the right to decide how the material is distributed, copied, how the work is displayed in the public, perform the work in the public, and make derivative works. Both published and unpublished materials are protected under copyright laws; however it is important to register your material to make the copyright laws enforceable. Additionally, a copyright must be registered before you can file any type of infringement suit.

To register a copyright you need to fill out an application, pay the filing fee, and submit a copy of the work that is being registered. By retaining a business attorney experienced with intellectual property and the process of filing copyrights, you will be able to protect your intellectual rights. In addition to copyrights, business attorneys provide services in trademark filing and litigation, patent litigation, and general intellectual property litigation. Protecting your work is even more important now because materials are so much more accessible online which it makes it so much easier to do digital reproduction and distribution.

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