If you wish to protect your original works from copyright infringement, you should, as a matter of course, register your copyrights with the United States Copyright Office.
Copyright is a form of protection provided by the laws of the United States (title 17, U. S. Code) to the authors of “original works of authorship,” including literary, dramatic, musical, artistic, and certain other intellectual works. This protection is available to both published and unpublished works. Section 106 of the 1976 Copyright Act generally gives the owner of copyright the exclusive right to do and to authorize others to do the following:
* To reproduce the work in copies or phonorecords;
* To prepare derivative works based upon the work;
* To distribute copies or phonorecords of the work to the public by sale or other transfer of ownership, or by rental, lease, or lending;
* To perform the work publicly, in the case of literary, musical, dramatic, and choreographic works, pantomimes, and motion pictures and other audiovisual works;
* To display the work publicly, in the case of literary, musical, dramatic, and choreographic works, pantomimes, and pictorial, graphic, or sculptural works, including the individual images of a motion picture or other audiovisual work; and
* In the case of sound recordings*, to perform the work publicly by means of a digital audio transmission.
One major limitation is the doctrine of “fair use,” which is given a statutory basis in section 107 of the 1976 Copyright Act. In other instances, the limitation takes the form of a “compulsory license” under which certain limited uses of copyrighted works are permitted upon payment of specified royalties and compliance with statutory conditions.
The works that must be fixed in a tangible form of expression (typically written or recorded), can not merely be titles, names, short phrases or slogans; familiar symbols or designs; can not be mere variations of typographic ornamentation, lettering, or coloring; mere listings of ingredients or contents. Furhter copyrights do not protect ideas, procedures, methods, systems, processes, concepts, principles, discoveries, or devices, as distinguished from a description, explanation, or illustration. Finally, works consisting entirely of information that is common property and containing no original authorship (for example: standard calendars, height and weight charts, tape measures and rulers, and lists or tables taken from public documents or other common sources) can not be copyright protected.
A copyright attorney can help protect your original work of authorship whether it is a literary work; musical work, including any accompanying words; dramatic work, including any accompanying music; pantomimes and choreographic work; pictorial, graphic, and sculptural works; motion pictures and other audiovisual work; sound recordings; or architectural work. Contact a Traverse Legal copyright lawyer if you have any questions.