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Copyright Registration

A copyright is the exclusive right to print, reproduce, sell, and exhibit written material, musical compositions, art works, photographs, movies and television programs, data systems, and other creations placed in a tangible, preserved medium of expression. This exclusive right also extends to the public distribution, display or performance of that copyrighted work and to the preparation of derivative works (e.g. a movie version of a copyrighted novel).

A copyright lasts for the life of the creator, plus 25 years in some countries and 50 in others. Neither publication nor registration is required to secure a copyright. But without registration, a person claiming copyright infringement can only win actual damages (including lost profits). Plaintiffs with registered works may also win attorneys' fees and statutory damages awards.

Copyrightable works are: books, periodicals, lectures, musical compositions, works of art, maps, photographs, dramatic works, movies, illustrations.

Rights Protected by Copyright Law

The purpose of copyright law is to encourage creative work by granting a temporary monopoly in an author's original creations. This monopoly takes the form of six rights in areas where the author retains exclusive control. These rights are:

(1) the right of reproduction (i.e., copying),
(2) the right to create derivative works,
(3) the right to distribution,
(4) the right to performance,
(5) the right to display, and
(6) the digital transmission performance right.

The law of copyright protects the first two rights in both private and public contexts, whereas an author can only restrict the last four rights in the public sphere. Claims of infringement must show that the defendant exercised one of these rights. For example, if I create unauthorized videotape copies of Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan and distribute them to strangers on the street, then I have infringed both the copyright holder's rights of reproduction and distribution. If I merely re-enact The Wrath of Khan for my family in my home, then I have not infringed on the copyright. Names, ideas and facts are not protected by copyright.

Infringement protects against confusion about the origin of goods. The plaintiff in an infringement suit must show that defendant's use of the mark is likely to cause such a confusion. For instance, if I were an unscrupulous manufacturer, I might attempt to capitalize on the fame of Star Trek by creating a line of 'Spock Activewear.' If consumers could reasonably believe that my activewear was produced or endorsed by the owners of the Spock trademark, then I would be liable for infringement.

The law of trademark dilution protects against confusion concerning the character of a registered trademark. Suppose I created a semi-automatic assault rifle and marketed it as 'The Lt. Uhura 5000.' Even if consumers could not reasonably believe that the Star Trek trademark holders produced this firearm, the trademark holders could claim that my use of their mark harmed the family-oriented character of their mark. I would be liable for dilution.

How can we help you with your Copyright Registration

To obtain complete details on copyright prosecution, requirements and charges, please choose the country in the list here.