Copyright

Jump to Section

Need help with a Copyright?

CREATE A FREE PROJECT POSTING
Post Project Now

Copyrights are the perfect choice when you want to protect your creative works and intellectual property rights. While you can copyright your original creations without registration, you can glean certain advantages if you make things official with the federal government.

In the page below, we took a deep dive into copyright laws and how you can use one in your business:

What Is a Copyright?

Copyrights are legal protections for exclusive rights of creative works. Creative works include literary, artistic, educational, and musical intellectual property. The traditional copyright symbol is ©.

Copyright Basics with Examples

While registration is not required to own a copyright, it is the only way to enforce your legal rights. Copyright registration also creates a public record of your claim. This process is a requirement for infringement lawsuits should one arise.

The legal benefits of registering your copyright far outweigh the effort. Creators should consider doing so when creating copyrightable work. You will likely thank yourself in the future.

What Works Can I Copyright?

The term “copyrightable work” refers to original forms of expression. You can copyright works in the following formats and mediums:

  • Musical compositions
  • Pantomimes
  • Choreographic works
  • Paintings, graphic design, and sculptures
  • Audiovisual works
  • Sound recordings
  • Literary works
  • Architectural designs

Here’s a list of things that aren’t copyrighted:

  • Procedures, methods, systems, and processes
  • Logos, slogans, and other forms of trade dress
  • Unwritten speeches or performances
  • Government-funded projects

As you can see, copyright legislation is broad. However, it does not cover every instance of creativity.

If you have questions or concerns about what you can copyright, always speak with a copyright lawyer for greater clarity. They can also help you handle the application and search process. Many business owners have reassurance knowing they’ll avoid expensive legal mistakes with this option.

How Long Does a Copyright Last?

Some believe that copyright registration is valid for 70 years after creator’s death. This fact is only true for works created by a single owner.

Most copyrights have a duration determined by the type of entity that owns the copyright, the number of authors, and other factors. Joint ownership lasts for 70 years after last surviving author’s death.

What Rights Does a Copyright Holder Have?

Copyright holders have various rights, including the ability to reproduce, sell, and publicly display their work. According to copyright law, these rights are exclusive. Exclusivity means that the copyright holder is the only entity permitted to take certain actions.

Copyright holders have the following rights:

  • Create derivative works based on the source material
  • Distribution
  • Lease or lend copies
  • Make copies of the work
  • Perform original copyrighted work
  • Publicly display the copyrighted work
  • Sell or transfer ownership

Copyright infringement occurs when someone uses the work without permission or a legal defense such as fair use. If someone infringes upon your rights, consider exercising your options for remedy.

Meet some lawyers on our platform

Namrita N.

5 projects on CC
View Profile

Bryan B.

38 projects on CC
View Profile

Cory B.

1 project on CC
View Profile

Forest H.

48 projects on CC
View Profile

What Are Your Legal Rights If Someone Infringes Upon Them?

Depending on the circumstances, you can settle the dispute in or out of court if for infringement cases. You can’t legally enforce your copyright ownership rights without registration. Additionally, the infringer won’t face prosecution.

However, there’s a process if someone infringes on your copyright and you haven’t registered it yet. Start by contacting the infringer and request that they stop. Most business owners end up hiring a copyright lawyer to send a cease and desist letter.

However, if you have a copyright registration, your cease and desist will always be more persuasive when the person knows you have the right to sue if they ignore you.

How Much Does It Cost to Get a Copyright?

While there’s an expedited process, copyright registration costs are $35-$55 for non-expedited copyright filings. In the grand scheme of things in the business world, this filing fee is relatively nominal. Expedited registration costs can exceed $800, not including preparation costs.

Beyond that, you won’t be able to take any formal or legally binding actions until you register your work with the copyright office.

Examples of Copyright Basics

Understanding how copyrights work is more straightforward with examples. Below, we’ve created a few common examples to help you understand copyright basics:

Copyright Example 1. Music and Merchandise

Here’s a copyright example involving a local recording artist:

  • Omar is an Americana and folk artist in Montana
  • He writes, records, and performs music as part of his work
  • He also operates a website that helps him sell music and merchandise
  • Omar’s copyright lawyers advise him to register and affix a copyright symbol
  • Omar’s web designer places a copyright symbol in the IP footer of his site
  • Omar’s graphic designer includes the copyright on his printed materials and graphic design works
  • Omar feels safe and secure that his IP remains protected over the course of his career as a local recording artist

Copyright Example 2. Orchestral Scores

Here’s a copyright example involving a composer:

  • Luis is a conductor for a regional philharmonic orchestra
  • He is creating an original score for the orchestra to perform in a few years
  • Upon completion, Luis speaks with his copyright lawyers
  • Luis decides to register a copyright after speaking with them
  • Luis retains his Original Work of Authorship (OWA) over the score
  • The score is a massive hit with audiences
  • A metropolitan orchestra becomes impressed with his compositions
  • Luis accepts a job offer and signs a contract with them
  • Luis’ OWA permits him to perform his score with the new orchestra

ContractsCounsel Copyright Image

Image via Pexels by Suzy

Copyright Example 3. Website Footers

Here’s an example of a copyright for a website:

  • Milo owns a company that manufactures disinfecting wipes
  • His company, Hawthorn Wipes, operates a website that sells direct-to-consumer
  • Milo also invests in search engine optimization and content
  • He is right to feel concerned about IP theft
  • Milo does a quick online search and thinks he should add a copyright symbol to the footer
  • Milo is an agile business owner and makes website changes through his CMS
  • Hawthorn Wipes’ web content is now protected from fraud or theft

This article also covers copyright basics.

What Is Copyright Registration?

Copyright registrations are verifiable records of a work’s creation date, owner, and content. The United States Copyright Office assigns a copyright registration number to a work after submitting an application and paying an application fee. In legal cases of plagiarism or infringement, this measure safeguards the copyright owner.

What Is a Copyright Search?

Copyright searches are necessary for using or registering copyright. Anyone can search the Library of Congress to perform one. From there, people can locate all recorded claimants for the specific query, including renewals and assignments.

Copyright vs. Trademarks

The primary distinction between copyrights vs. trademarks is that copyrighting generally protects creative works. On the other hand, trademarks preserve a brand’s trade dress.

However, they’re similar in that you don’t have to register them to use them but can if you wish to invoke certain legal protections and rights. Ownership also belongs to the original creator in both cases.

Get Help with Copyright Laws

Are you thinking about copyrighting your creative works of expression? It’s a wise idea since intellectual property is vital to your success. Instead of leaving your works unprotected, speak with copyright lawyers for legal help.

Post a project in ContractsCounsel’s marketplace to get free bids from intellectual property lawyers in our network. All lawyers are vetted by our team and peer reviewed by our customers for you to explore before hiring.

How ContractsCounsel Works
Hiring a lawyer on ContractsCounsel is easy, transparent and affordable.
1. Post a Free Project
Complete our 4-step process to provide info on what you need done.
2. Get Bids to Review
Receive flat-fee bids from lawyers in our marketplace to compare.
3. Start Your Project
Securely pay to start working with the lawyer you select.

Meet some of our Copyright Lawyers

ContractsCounsel verified
CEO
36 years practicing
Free Consultation

I focus my practice on startups and small to mid-size businesses, because they have unique needs that mid-size and large law firms aren't well-equipped to service. In addition to practicing law, I have started and run other businesses, and have an MBA in marketing from Indiana University. I combine my business experience with my legal expertise, to provide practical advice to my clients. I am licensed in Ohio and California, and I leverage the latest in technology to provide top quality legal services to a nationwide client-base. This enables me to serve my clients in a cost-effective manner that doesn't skimp on personal service.

ContractsCounsel verified
Attorney
38 years practicing
Free Consultation

I am a 1984 graduate of the Benjamin N Cardozo School of Law (Yeshiva University) and have been licensed in New Jersey for over 35 years. I have extensive experience in negotiating real estate, business contracts, and loan agreements. Depending on your needs I can work remotely or face-to-face. I offer prompt and courteous service and can tailor a contract and process to meet your needs.

ContractsCounsel verified
Founding Member/Attorney
8 years practicing
Free Consultation

Tim advises small businesses, entrepreneurs, and start-ups on a wide range of legal matters. He has experience with company formation and restructuring, capital and equity planning, tax planning and tax controversy, contract drafting, and employment law issues. His clients range from side gig sole proprietors to companies recognized by Inc. magazine.

ContractsCounsel verified
Business Attorney
32 years practicing
Free Consultation

For over thirty (30) years, Mr. Langley has developed a diverse general business and commercial litigation practice advising clients on day-to-day business and legal matters, as well as handling lawsuits and arbitrations across Texas and in various other states across the country. Mr. Langley has handled commercial matters including employment law, commercial collections, real estate matters, energy litigation, construction, general litigation, arbitrations, defamation actions, misappropriation of trade secrets, usury, consumer credit, commercial credit, lender liability, accounting malpractice, legal malpractice, and appellate practice in state and federal courts. (Online bio at www.curtmlangley.com).

ContractsCounsel verified
Attorney
23 years practicing
Free Consultation

Real Estate and Business lawyer.

ContractsCounsel verified
Founder
19 years practicing
Free Consultation

Davis founded DLO in 2010 after nearly a decade of practicing in the corporate department of a larger law firm. Armed with this experience and knowledge of legal solutions used by large entities, Davis set out to bring the same level of service to smaller organizations and individuals. The mission was three-fold: provide top-notch legal work, charge fair prices for it, and never stop evolving to meet the changing needs of clients. Ten years and more than 1000 clients later, Davis is proud of the assistance DLO provides for companies large and small, and the expanding service they now offer for individuals and families.

ContractsCounsel verified
Partner
20 years practicing
Free Consultation

Braden Perry is a corporate governance, regulatory and government investigations attorney with Kennyhertz Perry, LLC. Mr. Perry has the unique tripartite experience of a white-collar criminal defense and government compliance, investigations, and litigation attorney at a national law firm; a senior enforcement attorney at a federal regulatory agency; and the Chief Compliance Officer/Chief Regulatory Attorney of a global financial institution. Mr. Perry has extensive experience advising clients in federal inquiries and investigations, particularly in enforcement matters involving technological issues. He couples his technical knowledge and experience defending clients in front of federal agencies with a broad-based understanding of compliance from an institutional and regulatory perspective.

Find the best lawyer for your project

Browse Lawyers Now

Want to speak to someone?

Get in touch below and we will schedule a time to connect!

Request a call