Copyright: The exclusive legal right to reproduce, perform and sell the matter and form of literary, musical or artistic work. The purpose of copyright is to promote literary and artistic creativity by protecting, for a limited time, what the U.S. Constitution calls the writings of authors.
(c) publicly display
(d) publicly perform
(e) prepare derivative works
Step 1: The moment you have created and fixed a work in a tangible form, such as writing it down or recording it on tape, it automatically enjoys federal copyright protection. Works that are not fixed, such as extemporaneous speeches or un-recorded live performances, are not covered by federal statute but may be protected by state law.
Step 2: Affix a copyright notice to all publicly distributed copies of a work in a manner and location legible to an ordinary user of the work. While copyright notice is no longer required for U.S. copyright protection, notice is recommended to prevent others from claiming they did not know the work was copyrighted. The copyright notice should contain three elements:
Step 3: In order to preserve certain advantages provided under federal statute, within three months after the work is first published, submit an application to the Copyright Office along with two complete copies of the best edition of the work and pay the requisite filing fee.
Even though it is not required, the advantages of registering with the Copyright Office include:
For a work created on or after January 1, 1978, the copyright lasts for the author’s lifetime plus seventy years. The copyright in a work made for hire (generally, a work prepared by an employee within the scope of his or her employment) or in an anonymous work lasts for ninety-five years from the date of first publication or one hundred twenty years from the date the work was created, whichever is shorter.
Under the GATT Treaty, U.S. copyright protection is restored to some foreign works which had lost protection in the U.S. for failure to comply with formalities previously imposed by U.S. copyright law. Reliance parties, those who have copied these works before their copyright was restored, will have a grace period to stop, or obtain a license for, their copying before becoming liable for infringement.
The individual or joint authors of a work own the copyright. In the case of a work made for hire, the employer or party commissioning a work is deemed to be the author.
Yes. A copyright is divisible, and the five rights comprising copyright may be sold or assigned. All transfers must be in writing and signed by the copyright owner. Rights in a copyright work can be licensed, in whole or in part.
Copyright infringement is the unauthorized use or copying of a work. Some copying does not constitute copyright infringement, e.g., the copying of a basic idea, rather than the expression of that idea in a copyrighted work, the independent creation of a similar work, or “fair use” of the work for comment, criticism or research.
First publication anywhere in the world of a literary or artistic work may affect its copyright status elsewhere. Therefore, international treaties are particularly important in the copyright field. Many commercially important countries, including the U.S., have ratified the Universal Copyright Convention, and are members of the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works. Both conventions protect works created in one nation against copyright infringement in other member nations.
A separate federal law gives the owner of a mask work (a set of images or templates used to design and manufacture a semiconductor chip) the exclusive right to reproduce it and to import and distribute chips embodying it. The protection starts when you register the mask work in the Copyright Office or you first commercially exploit the mask work anywhere, whichever is earlier. The protection continues for ten years, but only if you register within two years of the first commercial exploitation.