Do you own a copyright?
Do you doodle, write in a journal, paint, draw, or post to a blog?
Did you know that when you do those things that you automatically own the copyright to those works?
Copyright law is confusing for many people but today I will try to clear up some of the confusion with a very basic look at copyright. Keep in mind that I am not a lawyer or a professional in the copyright business.
The Copyright Act took effect in 1976 and it protects the following:
- literary works (including computer software)
- musical works, including accompanying words
- dramatic works, including accompanying music
- pantomimes and choreographic works
- pictorial, graphic, and sculptural works
- motion pictures and other audiovisual works
- sound recordings
- architectural works
What is not protected?
- Ideas, procedures, methods, systems, discoveries, concepts, processes, methods
- Titles, names, (though some titles and names might be protected by trademark law) lists of ingredients or contents, slogans, short phrases
- Works that are not recorded, fixed or permanent in a tangible fashion such as an improvised speech or performance
- Works made up of information that is commonly available such as measurements, rulers, charts or graphs created from public documents and other common sources
- Works by theUSGovernment
- Works in the public domain
So why should you care about copyright?
I know that when I create something new I feel pretty proud of myself. Sometimes I’ve even been known to get a little silly about something I’ve worked a good, long time on and finally completed.Champagne has entered the picture along with a whole lot of whooping and self congratulations.
Now imagine someone copied that work and then published it in a book claiming the whole thing was their idea.
I would be very upset to say the least.
Copying someone’s work and declaring it as your own is theft. Plain and simple. Ignoring copyright law can result in a law suit, court costs and other fines and fees.
How do I protect my work under copyright law?
Basically, your work is automatically protected but you can also register a copyright for your work. Registering your copyright basically gives you all of the legal power you need to sue and “Registered works may be eligible for statutory damages and attorney’s fees in successful litigation.”
How do I get permission to use material that is copyrighted?
If you know who owns the copyright you simply ask for permission to use the material. If you do not know who owns the copyright you can request the copyright office to search it’s records or you can search the records yourself.
What if I change the original work? Can I use it then?
“You cannot claim copyright to another’s work, no matter how much you change it, unless you have the owner’s consent.”
I know that I’ve just barely scratched the surface of the questions surrounding copyright and maybe I’ve even caused you to have MORE questions. The U.S. Copyright Office has a great FAQ page for you to look through.
Have you dealt with copyright questions in your creative business?
You can find the other posts in this series here:
By: Vicki O’Dell, The Creative Goddess