Some businesses rely on their ability to create and sell or otherwise leverage their original works. Obtaining a copyright for those works is not just important, it can actually make or break the business by allowing the owner to pursue copyright violations aggressively. Getting a copyright is not difficult. It just takes a little time and money.
Many people believe no copyright exists unless a creative work is registered with the U.S. Copyright Office. This is not true. Any work created since 1978 is protected for the owner’s lifetime, plus another 70 years.
Obtaining a copyright, however, is a critical step in preventing others from infringing on your work and in enforcing your ownership rights. Without a copyright, you lose some protections for exclusive rights of copyright owners. You will also have a harder time in court if you have to bring a lawsuit to enforce your copyright.
By law, a copyright can protect many different types of creative expression, even if they are not published. Here are some examples of the types of works that can be protected under copyright law:
•computer software and programs;
•poetry, novels, and books;
•movies and plays;
•artistic displays, such as pictures and sculptures;
•songs, including both the melody and the lyrics;
•architectural design and maps.
Once you’ve decided to register your copyright to fortify the protection of your creative work, the process is straightforward. The first step is to complete an application, either online or in writing. For many works, the copyright office prefers to receive online applications. However, a few types of applications may only be submitted on paper.
If allowed, it is advisable to file online, as the filing fee is reduced. Also, online applications are processed more quickly, so you’ll receive your certificate in relatively short order.
Your application is not complete without a copy of your work. When you file your application, you’ll need to “deposit” a copy of the work you wish to register. You’ll also have to submit the filing fee, which is $35 for most basic registrations. Once your application is complete, the U.S. Copyright Office will issue a registration certificate.
Applying for a copyright may seem intimidating, but the process is relatively simple and can provide added protection for your business interests. Savvy business owners who want to be proactive in protecting their business interests can also work to develop a relationship with a trusted lawyer, one who will become a valuable part of your team, providing the quality legal advice you need to be successful.
This article is a service of Kundani & Chang LLP. We are an award-winning law firm that specializes in business and estate planning for clients like you. The goal for every family is to stay educated on all topics like this, avoid probate, avoid estate taxes, and build a legacy for you and your loved ones. What sets our firm apart is that we build lasting, lifelong relationships with our clients. They rely on us to keep them updated, provide sound legal counsel, and be there for them immediately if any problems should ever arise. The best part is we don’t charge hourly fees to our families, so you never have to worry about speaking to us. If you’re ready to keep your family out of Court, contact us today to schedule an initial consultation or visit our website at www.bridgelawllp.com