Copyright law is the aspect of law that protects the right of authors, artists, originators and creators to profit and earnings from their work. Copyright law operates to protect the rights of owner’s exclusivity to profit from artistic works and encourage artistic or content creators to make creative works.
Works Protected under Copyright Law
The general essence of Copyright Law is to ensure that persons who create artistic works profit or make earnings from those works. Copyright law protects a variety of creative works including:
- Written papers and poems
- Video recordings
- Theater and drama
- Derivative works adjusted or adapted of any of the above listed works
Works not Protected by Copyright Law
- Simple names
- Short advertising aphorism or maxim
- Other works not subject to copyright
Note that there is a clear difference between copyright and patents. Copyrights protect creative works while Patents protect discoveries and technologies.
How to Obtain Copyright
Under the United States legislation and a few other jurisdictions, copyright is automatic. The foremost person who produces a creative work is deemed at law as the one who has the right to profit from the work.
Generally, you don’t have to formally register a copyright with the United States Copyright Office in order to own a copyright. Nevertheless, registration of Copyrights is not outlawed rather it provides you with a prima facie evidence that your copyright exists.
When copyright is registered, the owner can ask for statutory damages and attorney fees if it is violated, these reliefs aren’t available to a copyright owner if you don’t register your copyright.
To own a copyright and sufficiently proof the existence, you must reduce your work to a tangible form. It’s not enough to have an idea. It’s also not enough to tell someone about your idea. To own a copyright, your work must be recorded in a permanent form in a way that someone else can view, analyze, hear or inspect it.
Symbol of Copyright
The legal requirement under the United States Law to place a copyright symbol (©) on your work in order to own a valid copyright is no longer applicable today. The United States signed onto an international treaty that makes a copyright automatic in the United States without having to place a symbol on your work or register same.
However, in practice copyright owners have continued to place the copyright symbol (©) on their works to depict or portray ownership, not necessarily as a matter of law but as a practice that may be circumvented.
Legal Effect of Copyright
A copyright protects the owner’s right to profit from their work and make earnings by making copies of their work and selling it to the public. For instance, a singer who produces his song in a tangible form a makes multiple copies of the work and sell it. The singer might allow people to download an unlimited number of mp3s for a price. The legal effect of a copyright to this extent is that no other person is legally permitted to produce, sell or distribute the work or any part of it without the express consent of the copyright owner.
Copyright owners may import and export their work. They may adjust or adapt their work to create derivative works. They may also decide to display their works in public, and they exclusively own the right to broadcast their work online, by radio or video, print or any electronic media. Copyright owners may also waive, transfer, bequeath or sell their copyright partially or fully to third parties.