Copyright: An Overview

A copyright is a form of protection given to authors of original works. Original works can include music, literature, movies, photographs and other artistic endeavors. The author of the work is given the exclusive right to distribute, publish, reproduce, perform, or display the work. However, this exclusive right lasts for only a certain period of time, although that period is quite long. Generally, for works created on or after January 1, 1978, the copyright is protected for the life of the author plus 70 years after the author’s death.

Copyright protection begins from the time the work is created in a fixed form, no registration is required to obtain a copyright. Those individuals who create the work are the ones that can claim the protection of the copyright. Additionally, copyright protection is available for both published and unpublished works. While copyright registration is not a requirement for protection under the copyright laws, registration of a copyright will provide advantages to the copyright owner. Depending on the timing of a registration, it can provide proof of the validity of the copyright and it can provide the owner with the ability to recover attorneys fees should an infringement action proceed in court. Also, in order to bring an infringement suit, the copyright must be registered. And most simply it provides a public record of the copyright and the owners claim to that right.

Registration of a copyright is accomplished by submitting an Original Claim to Copyright with the U.S. Copyright Office. The registration of the copyright will be effective on the date that all required information is received by the Copyright Office, regardless of how long it takes for the claim to be processed.

If you have works that you would like to register with the Copyright Office, or if you believe that a copyright you own is being infringed, please call our office at 801.356.1030. We would be happy to assist you in protecting your intellectual property.