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How to Copyright Your Literary,Dramatic, Musical and Artistic Work

This article covers the important facts you need to know about how to copyright your literary, dramatic, musical and artistic work.  So what is a copyright?  A copyright gives you exclusive rights to original works of authorship. You can use copyrights to protect poems, novels, books, movies, songs, photographs, art, web sites, computer software, and architecture. Copyright protection does not protect facts, ideas, systems, or methods of operation, although it may protect the way these things are expressed.

Copyrights gives you the owner the exclusive right to reproduce, distribute, perform, display, license, and to prepare derivative works based on your copyrighted work. It is important to note that you cannot sue for copyright infringement when others use it for purposes of criticism, comment, teaching or research. One of the most important criteria in determining if you can file a claim of infringement is whether the alleged party used your copyrighted material for commercial use. If so, you have a valid case. It is also copyright infringement if your works, such as recorded music or movies were reproduced and given out for free.

Copyright protection is available to both published and unpublished works. Registering your material with the U.S. Copyright Office is not required to get copyright protection. You can put a copyright notice immediately on your work without registering. A copyright notice includes the letter “C” inside a circle followed by the year that the work was finished, the author’s name and the statement “All Rights Reserved”. If the material you are copyrighting is an audio recording you use the letter “P” inside a circle instead of the letter “C”. Please note that your material is protected with or without a copyright notice on it. However, the notice can help deter people from infringing on your copyright.


It’s true that you get copyright protection even without registering your material with the U.S. Copyright Office. However, having a registered copyright gives you significantly more protection than if you aren’t registered. In the United States, you need to have a registered copyright before you can file an infringement claim in federal court. It generally takes four or more months to obtain a Certificate of Registration. As a result, not having a registered copyright can significantly delay your filing an infringement claim.

Registering for a copyright within three months of your first publication or before an infringement occurs can significantly impact your monetary reward if you prevail in a copyright infringement case. If you do not have a registered copyright, all you can sue for is for damages. Damages are calculated by figuring out the actual damages incurred by the owner of the copyright plus the infringer’s profits. With a registered copyright, however, you can seek attorney’s fees, and statutory damages in addition to your actual damages. Statutory damages can range from $750 to $30,000 and are determined by the court. If the copyright owner can prove that infringement was willful, the court may award statutory damages of up to $150,000 per violation.

Currently, it only costs $35 to file an application for registering your material for copyright protection at the U.S. Copyright Office, if it is done electronically. As a result, if you feel you have something of significant value, it’s a no brainier to apply for registered copyright protection. The cost jumps to $65 if you submit an application by mail. When you file your application, you are required to submit two complete copies of the best edition within 3 months after a work is published for use by the Library of Congress. It takes about two months for the Office to process your registration.

Regardless of whether you file an application to register for copyright protection or not, if you publish your work in the United States, you are required by law to submit two complete copies of the best edition within 3 months to the Library of Congress after a work is published. Foreign publishers are required to submit one copy. Failure to comply can result in a significant fine.

Copyrights can be a very valuable asset, especially if you have a best selling novel, a blockbuster movie, a top forty hit or a popular software program or game. Rights to your Copyright can be sold outright or licensed to a person or a business. If you are contemplating selling or licensing your copyright, is an excellent website for accomplishing this goal. When you place a listing on this site, you can use narratives, pictures and movies to pitch the commercial marketability of your copyrighted material. This is a very powerful and timesaving way to either sell it outright or license it.


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