Did you know that as soon as you record or write down something that is original, it's automatically copyrighted according to U.S. federal laws, as well as in most of the world? That’s right, copyright protection is automatic and does not require any kind of registration.
However, this does not mean you should not register your work for Copyright. In the case of the USA, if you do not register your work in this country you will not be able to present court actions (file suite) in the USA. As for the rest of the world, having your copyright registered may help you to claim ownership in case of disputes. Registration will grant you a presumption of ownership. Not having your work registered for copyright will in most cases make it difficult to assert your rights over your works.
How do you go about getting your work registered? Many countries have official government registries for Copyright protection, others do not. If you are interested in registering your copyright, contact us about getting your copyright registered.
In the next few paragraphs, we'll explain that process and give you a clear picture of what you can do to obtain protection for your work.
What Are the Different Types of Intellectual Property Protection?
Before you understand how to get a copyright, you need to know that Copyright is only one form of intellectual property protection. There are two other main kinds of intellectual property protection that you can apply for, and if your work falls in either of these categories, you'll have to go through a slightly different process to protect it.
Patents apply to inventions. The protection is limited in its duration and can be granted only to inventions that comply with three criteria, novelty, non-obviousness and practical use.
Inventions include machines, industrial processes, manufactured goods, and chemical compositions, as long as they comply with the above-mentioned criteria.
The duration of your patent could be anywhere between 15-20 years in the U.S.
A trademark protects individual words, phrases, symbols, or designs that identify or distinguish the source of goods and services.
Trademark protection does not have a limit in time as long as the registration is duly renewed. In the U.S., this type of protection does not apply unless you are actually using the trademark. Thus, when you register a trademark you must show at least an intent to use the mark. In most other countries use is not required to register a trademark. Trademark registration must be done country by country, a single registration will not protect your trademark world-wide.
A copyright applies to original works. This includes works in the literary, musical, dramatic, and artistic genres. Examples might be novels, short stories, pamphlets, software (in most cases), architectural designs, poetry, songs, choreographies, speeches, etc.
The duration of the copyright may vary depending on the nature of the work, country a work was first published, nationality of the creator and a few other factors. In the case of the United States, the general term of copyright protection will last your entire life plus 70 years. In the case of Mexico, the term of protection after the death of the creator is 75 years. in the case of Yemen, the term of protection only expands for a period of 30 years after the death of the creator.
Contrary to popular belief, copyright does not protect ideas – it protects the form in which they are expressed. It also does not cover facts or concepts, domain names, operating processes, slogans or titles. Some of these might fall under trademark or patent laws.
Copyright grants you, the owner, the exclusive right to copy and distribute a work. You are free to sell your work exclusively. You can also adapt your work into any form you like or make derivations of it, or grant the rights to do so to someone else. You can also perform your work for money or freely express it in public.
Why Should I Register My Copyright?
If copyright is granted automatically when a work is created, it might seem pointless to go through the process and expense of registering it. However, copyright registration is actually quite advisable, and in some cases necessary.
Mainly, it will serve to make sure that you never have to go through the headache of proving you have the rights to your work. Going to court without a registered copyright is a long and painful process. In the case of the United States, you will not be able to start legal process for copyright infringement if you have not registered your copyright in the United States through the U.S. Copyright Office.
A copyright establishes a public record of your work and lets everyone know that the work is yours. With a copyright in hand, the burden of proof is on the other person. They have to prove that you are not the owner or creator of the work and that they are.
This makes it much easier to defend your work if someone claims copyright infringement on you and it makes it easier to keep others from using your work without your permission.
How to Get a Copyright Registered
Contrary to patent or trademark registration, the process of getting a copyright registered is fairly easy.
You first need to create a digital copy of your work. This is how to get a copyright registered in the most expedient fashion. You can also send a hardcopy of your work, but this process takes longer and is more expensive. Furthermore, paper applications take longer to process. In the case of the US, the registration process for Copyright takes approximately 9 months.
If you are a company or have a company enforcing your copyright, you need to assign the copyright to the company name and not your own. If you assign the copyright to yourself, your name becomes public. You can also register anonymously if you like, however, the term of protection for the work in this case will be shorter.
Once your copyright is registered, you will get an official government certificate of registration.
Adding a Notice of Copyright
Many people do not add a notice of copyright to their work anymore, as this is no longer necessary in order for a work to be protected by Copyright. However, although it seems redundant to add a copyright symbol or a notice of copyright to your work, it does serve to advise third parties regarding the status of the work. Adding this symbol serves as a determent.
When you add a notice of infringement, make sure that you include the author's name, the copyright owner’s name, the date of publication, and the word copyright next to the copyright symbol.
Get Your Work Copyrighted
As with any form of intellectual property, enlisting the help of an expert is highly advisable. iGERENT’s team of experienced Consultants can assist you.
If you have any further questions about copyrights and registering your work, contact us and let us know. We offer copyright registration services worldwide.
Other articles you may find of interest:
- Match Your Businesses Domain Name with its Trademark
- Changes in European Union Trademarks
- Tips to Avoid Common Mistakes When Choosing Your Trademark