Protecting Your Creations through Copyright

What is a copyright?

Copyright protects the expression of an idea (but not the idea itself; an idea is often protectible through patent or trade secret).

Copyright is inherent at the creation of a work once fixed in a tangible medium of expression from which the work can be perceived.

Do I need to register my copyright?

No. However, not registering a copyright prevents the owner from filing suit. Failure to timely register also limits the amount of monetary damages one may collect in a successful infringement suit.

Do I need to place a copyright notice on the work?

Copyright notice is no longer required for legal protection to attach to the work. However, it is prudent to place copyright notice on all copyrightable works, using one of the following formats (Copyright; Year(s); Name/Business):

Copyright 2015-17 York Law LLC

Copr. 2015-17 York Law LLC

© 2015-17 York Law LLC

What is the term-length of a copyright?

At present, most copyright terms are measured as the life of the author plus 70 years. For atypical situations, the 1976 Copyright Act and its amendments require modified calculation procedures to accurately determine copyright expiration.

Also of note, the last copyright term extension act increased the duration of the term by 20 years, which became effective in 1998. As we approach the 20-year anniversary of that act, and with many famous copyrights approaching expiration, expect renewed discussion and even proposed legislation seeking to extend the copyright term for an additional length of time.