WHAT IS COPYRIGHT LAW?
Copyright law is a subset of laws that govern ownership of created works of art. The work of art could be a writing, (a book, an article, a movie script), a drawing, a painting, software, and more. It is governed by the federal government, and codified in the Section 17 of the United States Constitution. The purpose of it is to promote the arts and the sciences.
WHAT IS A COPYRIGHT?
A copyright is ownership and protection for the particular work that you created.
HOW DO I GAIN PROTECTION IN MY WORK?
Copyright protection is automatically granted when the work is fixed in a tangible medium of expression.
WHAT ARE THE REQUIREMENTS?
A copyright is automatically granted. In order to gain a copyright, the work of art needs a few things:
“Copyright protection subsists … in original works of authorship fixed in any tangible medium of expression, now known or later developed, from which they can be perceived, reproduced or otherwise communicated, either directly or with the aid of a machine or device”
Did you make the work yourself? That is the only necessary requirement for originality. You did not copy or steal it from someone else.
- Fixation in a tangible medium of expression
Is the work able to be perceived in some permanent form in some way? It could be a writing, a picture, a movie, a video game, a drawing or painting. One way to wrap your mind around this requirement would be if you can use any of your 5 senses (see, hear, smell, taste, touch) to perceive the work.
WHY SHOULD I REGISTER MY COPYRIGHT?
Registering your copyright allows you to collect damages. You can not sue someone unless your copyright is registered before the lawsuit commences.
HOW DO I REGISTER MY COPYRIGHT?
You register your copyright with the Copyright Office! (https://www.copyright.gov/) There might be different requirements depending on what you want to register.
WHAT CAN/CAN NOT BE COPYRIGHTED?
You can own a copyright in almost anything that you create. This includes photos, books, movies, software, and more. The better question is what can not be copyrighted.
You can not own ideas, facts, laws of nature/physics (such as the law of relativity), and some processes. You can not own things that are functional, such as clothing or a box.
Ideas are not tangible, and tangibility is necessary in copyright law.
This is just a small bit of how copyright law works. I hope that this was helpful to you, and I wish you the best in your artistic endeavors. If you need any help, please feel free to reach out to me.