Just as the word sounds, copyright is giving one the right to copy. As the person who owns the legal rights to intellectual property, an author, artist, singer, or other individual can be legally recognized as the only person who is authorized to copy their work, or grant permission to others who want to copy it for various purposes. In any case, the legal side of copyrights can be complex, often requiring the services of an attorney to clear up any matters pertaining to copyright infringement. If you are an author, artist, songwriter, or other individual who has created any type of intellectual property, here are some key details to remember regarding the legal side of copyrights.
How Copyrights Can Be Used
Once a person creates something such as a song, book, or work of art, the copyright for that property can be used in various ways. Along with being able to assign their copyright and grant others permission to use it if they wish, a copyright owner can also license it, use it for certain types of funding, and perhaps most importantly, collect royalties when their copyright is used by others.
While many people think an original work of any kind must be registered in order to have copyright protection, that is not the case. In fact, U.S. law states that there is no need to register an original work in order for it to be considered copyrighted. Therefore, as soon as a work is created, it automatically is copyrighted, and the owner has full control over their work. And to make sure a copyright always has as much protection as possible, they can be enforced worldwide, so long as the nations involved have copyright treaties in place, as is the case with the United States and Canada.
What Can Be Copyrighted?
Since intellectual property is a very broad area, any number of things can fit the criteria for being copyrighted. Common examples include writing of all types, including books, articles, plays, poems, and much more. Along with these examples, others include song lyrics and instrumentals, artistic works such as paintings, sculptures, and drawings, movies and television shows, and even original architectural designs. And as technology has advanced through the years, many aspects of it can be copyrighted as well. These can include podcasts, blogs, website content to include graphics, page layout, text, and pictures, and computer programs used for business, entertainment, or personal use.
How Long Can Copyrights Last?
In these instances, the answer can vary from country to country. For example, in the United States, copyrights for intellectual property last for the life of the person who created the work, plus an additional 70 years. These same guidelines apply in the United Kingdom, while in Canada the length is for the life of the work’s creator plus 50 years. This is done to not only protect the integrity of the work, but to also maximize the opportunities the work’s creator and their heirs may have at benefiting from royalties and other incentives gained through the use of the intellectual property over the years.
What is Not Protected by Copyrights?
While many things are protected by copyrights, many others are not. Examples of these items include names of businesses, products, or groups, individual pseudonyms, catchphrases, and listings of ingredients found in recipes or formulas. However, while these items may not be subject to copyright protection, they are usually covered by patent and trademark law, which gives them many different types of protection. But due to the similarities in many of these examples, it is often a good idea to consult an attorney who specializes in intellectual property law to ascertain where your work may fall in these categories.
While there may be occasional questions regarding copyright infringement or other related issues, more and more people have familiarized themselves with various aspects of intellectual property law in recent years, thanks in large part to technological advances pertaining to online information. But if you have any questions that still persist, don’t hesitate to seek legal advice.