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What is a Copyright? A copyright apply to any number of works, and may refer to the labors of individual authors, artists, poets, singers, and musicians.  While such works are classic examples of copyrightable subject matter, modern US Copyright Law embodies other less-obvious creative labors. 

What Does a Copyright Grant to the Owner? The owner of the copyright is typically given the exclusive right to any of the following to the copyrighted work:

  • Reproduce copies of the work

  • Create derivative works based upon the original work

  • Create copies of the work for sale to the public

  • Perform and display the work in a public forum

Why Copyrights Are Still Needed. Today, much business is conducted via the Internet. The potential valuation of a company lies, now more than ever, in its ability to develop and capitalize upon a new flow of new ideas. Many important assets of a business including sales brochures, advertising, solicitation letters, emails, instruction manuals, architectural and engineering drawings, pictures, photographs, paintings, graphical images, web-site designs, computer software, music, and sound recordings can all be the subject of a Copyright Registration.

How Long Does a Copyright Last? Copyright protection generally lasts for 70 years plus the life of the original author.  For example, say a pianist composes a piece of music. The 70-year clock does not begin until that pianist is deceased.  

Registered vs. Unregistered Copyrights. Under current law, copyright protection attaches to a work whether or not the copyright owner registers the work with the U.S. Copyright Office. However, registration is required before an infringement lawsuit can be filed.


The Bottom Line.  Copyright registration is largely inexpensive.  It is therefore highly advisable to register any work believed to be of value.  Even if the number of works to be copyrighted is large, many such series of works can be protected within one application.  


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