Everything you really need to know about iGERENT's Services
Original works are protected by copyright as soon as they are created and fixed in a tangible medium that allows for them to be perceived by others, either directly (work on a paper) or through the assistance of a device or machine (Mp3 recording). It is NOT necessary to register a work for copyright to exist nor does it need to be made public. However, registration is recommended and may grant additional rights in certain jurisdictions.
Works created have protection during the entire life of the author and for a determined period of time after the author’s death, during which copyrights will be held by his or her heir(s).
The period of time varies depending on the country where the work was first published or on the nationality of the creator. The duration for which copyright will be protected depends on the country of origin of the work; the vast majority of countries establish that the period of protection after the death of the author is between 50 to 90 years. In the US and EU member countries, the period of copyright protection after the author’s death is 70 years.
In works where co-authorship exists, the period of protection after the death of the creators will begin after the death of the last author.
In the case of works that are created for a legal entity, "work made for hire" or works created anonymously or under a pseudonym, the period of protection will be for a determined period of time from the date of publication or creation, whichever is shorter.
Registering your copyright is not necessary for protective rights to exist. However, for practical reasons it is highly recommended. Registration provides a public record and will serve as evidence of validity and ownership.
In the case of the USA, registration is necessary to sue third parties if they have infringed on your rights. Whether it is already registered in another country or not, it will also have to be registered in the USA to be able to sue someone for infringing your copyright. Furthermore, you will only be able to claim statutory damages and attorney’s fees in cases of copyright infringement if it is registered.
In the United States having registered a work is necessary in order to eventually initiate legal actions against someone who is infringing on your copyright, or at least for such actions to be worthwhile. Only holders of registered copyrights may be awarded statutory damages by a court in the United States.
In most other countries voluntary copyright registration can be done through government offices. The general benefit and reason one should seek copyright registration is to acquire a presumption of ownership. Disputes may arise regarding who is the creator of a work and holder of the copyright. In these cases, having your copyright registered in a national office in the jurisdiction of interest may prove beneficial if a dispute is to arise, as registration will grant presumption of ownership and a date of creation. However, such presumption is rebuttable if evidence proving the contrary is presented.
It’s important to remember that copyright exists as soon as a work is created and fixed in a tangible medium. There is no such a thing as international registration of copyrights. However, the vast majority of countries are a part of the Berne Convention or other international treaties that have allowed foreign works, for the most part, to be protected by copyright regardless of the country of publication or the author’s nationality. Only a handful of countries (e.g. Eritrea, Ethiopia, Turkmenistan) don’t have any apparent copyright legislation or have not signed international conventions regarding this subject.
The following are general exceptions recognized by most jurisdictions or countries.
- Works in the public domain. They are works that are no longer protected by copyright and can be freely used, in any way, by anybody.
- Works whose creator or copyright holder renounces or forfeits his rights over the work.
- Works whose period of copyright protection has expired.
- Names of persons, objects or geographical locations are not protected by copyright.
- Titles and slogans are not protected by copyright (but may be protected as trademarks).
- Ideas and facts are never protected by copyright. Copyright can protect the way an idea or fact is expressed.
Fair Use/Fair Dealing
Fair Use is a set of exceptions established by a country’s law (in the U.S.A., it is a doctrine) in which third parties may freely use copyrighted works for a determined purpose, without prior authorization from the copyright holder, without infringing on the copyright. It is important to bear in mind that some countries are more lenient in what may constitute fair use.
Examples of generally accepted practices of fair use/fair dealing:
- Criticism and commentary: One may quote or show elements or reasonable portions of a work when this is done with the purpose of commenting on such work or criticizing it.
- Parody and Satire: Parts of works that are copyrighted may be used for parody and satire. However, parody and satire should not affect the work’s economic value.
- News reporting: Copyrighted work may be used to illustrate news reporting or commentary of current or past events. It may also be used as proof or substantiation of points that are being addressed in the news report. Inclusion of copyrighted works in these cases should be meaningful to the audience and serve the purpose of illustrating or as basis for the news being presented.
- Incidental Inclusion: When part of a work is included in another unintentionally.
- Accessibility for someone with a visual impairment: Many countries have their own legislation or are part of the Marrakesh Treaty to Facilitate Access to Published Works for Persons Who Are Blind, Visually Impaired, or Otherwise Print Disabled. If copyrighted works, such as books, have not been made available in a format that allows the visually impaired to have access to them (Audio Books or Braille), copies in these formats can be made without the authorization of the copyright holder.
- Library Archiving: Most jurisdictions allow libraries to make copies of works without the copyright owner’s authorization. In the U.S., libraries can make an additional copy of a work that is already part of their collection, as long as no additional commercial gain is had. Such copies must be accessible to the public and include a notice of copyright.
Adding the © symbol and “All rights reserved” mention in works is a formality to claim protection. Although it is usually included in works, it is not compulsory. If the symbol and declaration are not added, the copyright holder will still benefit from all the legal protection and recognition that national and international law grants.