What is a Copyright?


Copyright exits the moment an idea is fixated into a medium whether it be writing down a song on paper, carving a sculpture from wood, or perhaps filming your own YouTube video blog. The key is that the idea must be recorded or fixated into a medium and not just an idea in your head. This type of simple copyright, by way of fixating an idea is commonly referred to as a common law copyright.  

When Do You Need a Copyright?

With that being said, you do not always have to register a copyright for your recorded ideas. Instead, registration of a copyright comes into play if you want to protect your recorded idea from potential infringers. Furthermore, copyright registration allows you to bring suit against infringers and assert statutory damages as well as attorneys’ fees in a successful litigation, two types of damages that are not afforded to you if you fail to register the copyright before an alleged infringement.

If you choose to protect your idea and elect to register it as a copyright, then the process is fairly simple: complete an application, include the filing fee, and attach a copy of your work.  

Things to keep in mind are that there are different types of copyright categories such as:

  • Literary Works
  • Performing Arts
  • Visual Arts
  • Motion Pictures
  • Photographs

You will have to select the appropriate category in order to provide the proper protection for the work.

Also, consider that when registering your work for copyright, you will have to choose the right application depending on whether the work has already been published, as there are different requirements for published and unpublished works.

What is Worth Copyrighting?

Another thing to consider before applying for copyright registration is the proposed value of the created work. Sometimes content creators end up creating a lot of works and it is not economically feasible or worth the effort to register each piece of content. What you should consider specifically, is the likelihood of success or popularity of the idea. The more potential the idea has for being popular the more likely that it could be infringed and thus may be worth it to apply for registration early. A good way to test the waters on these types on works is to actually publish or perform the work and monitor the feedback the work receives. If a particular work is not really picking up steam and performing well, then it may not be worth it to pursue a formal registration. And remember you still have a common law copyright based on you fixing the idea into a medium if you ever do have to pursue an infringer.  

In closing, every original idea that you create is automatically copyrighted. Once you create a new piece of work, test the marketability or the performance of the work by publishing the work or conducting public performances of it, and if the work is particularly susceptible to infringement because it is popular and well received, then pursue an official copyright registration.  

For more information on Copyrights get in touch with us at Slate Law. We look forward to hearing from you!

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