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When is a copyright needed?

When you are investing time and money in developing an idea or form of expression for distribution. Copyright is a form of intellectual property applicable to any expressible form of an idea or information that is substantive and discrete.A copyright is needed to allow creators to be financially rewarded for their skills and efforts which they have been put in creating something. With the absence of copyright protection, it will be easy for anyone to pass off work as their own and to exploit it without giving any credit or payment to the original creator.

Ideally, the client aspires to build up a reputation and make repeat sales. It may be disadvantageous if a competitor were able to plagiarize the client’s idea or information.Without copyright, photographers, authors, artists, journalists or anyone else who creates non-material economic wealth would have to find alternative means to support themselves.For example, publishing a small subset of their creations and then requesting payment before they published more.


Definition of copyrights

A copyright is a legal concept, enacted by most governments, that grants the creator of an original work exclusive rights to its use and distribution, usually for a limited time, with the intention of enabling the creator of intellectual wealth (e.g. the photographer of a photograph or the author of a book) to receive compensation for their work and be able to financially support themselves.

Legally, a Copyright is a form of protection provided by the laws of the United States (Title 17, U. S. Code) to the authors of “original works of authorship,” includingliterary, dramatic, musical, artistic, and certain other intellectual works. Thisprotection is available to both published and unpublished works. Section 106of the 1976 Copyright Act generally gives the owner of copyright the exclusiveright to do and to authorize others to do the following:

  • reproduce the work in copies or phonorecords
  • prepare derivative works based upon the work
  • distribute copies or phonorecords of the work to the public by sale or othertransfer of ownership, or by rental, lease, or lending
  • perform the work publicly, in the case of literary, musical, dramatic, andchoreographic works, pantomimes, and motion pictures and other audiovisualworks
  • display the work publicly, in the case of literary, musical, dramatic, andchoreographic works, pantomimes, and pictorial, graphic, or sculpturalworks, including the individual images of a motion picture or other audiovisual work perform the work publicly, in the case of sound recordings, by means of a digital audio transmission.


Function of copyrights

The primary function of copyrights is to protect expressible forms of an idea or information that is substantive and discrete.


Who can claim copyright?

The copyright in the work of authorshipimmediately becomes the property of the author who createdthe work. Only the author or those deriving their rightsthrough the author can rightfully claim copyright.In the case of works made for hire, the employer and notthe employee is considered to be the author. Section 101 ofthe copyright law defines a “work made for hire” as:

  1. a work prepared by an employee within the scope of his orher employment; or
  2. a work specially ordered or commissioned for use as:
    • a contribution to a collective work
    • a part of a motion picture or other audiovisual work
    • a translation
    • a supplementary work
    • a compilation
    • an instructional text
    • a test
    • answer material for a test
    • an atlas

The authors of a joint work are co-owners of the copyrightin the work, unless there is an agreement to the contrary.Copyright in each separate contribution to a periodicalor other collective work is distinct from copyright in the collectivework as a whole and vests initially with the author ofthe contribution.


What works are protected?

Copyright protects “original works of authorship” that arefixed in a tangible form of expression. The fixation need notbe directly perceptible so long as it may be communicatedwith the aid of a machine or device. Copyrightable worksinclude the following categories:

  1. literary works
  2. musical works, including any accompanying words
  3. dramatic works, including any accompanying music
  4. pantomimes and choreographic works
  5. pictorial, graphic, and sculptural works
  6. motion pictures and other audiovisual works
  7. sound recordings
  8. architectural works

These categories should be viewed broadly. For example,computer programs and most “compilations” may be registeredas “literary works”.Maps and architectural plans maybe registered as “pictorial, graphic, and sculptural works.”


Why is it important to publish a copyright?

Publication is no longer the key to obtaining federal copyrightas it was under the Copyright Act of 1909. However,publication remains important to copyright owners.The 1976 Copyright Act defines publication as follows:
“Publication” is the distribution of copies or phonorecordsof a work to the public by sale or other transfer of ownership,or by rental, lease, or lending. The offering to distributecopies or phonorecords to a group of persons for purposesof further distribution, public performance, or publicdisplay constitutes publication. A public performance ordisplay of a work does not of itself constitute publication.
Publication is an important concept inĀ  CopyrightLawfor several reasons:

  1. Works that are published in the United States are subjectto mandatory deposit with the Library of Congress.
  2. Publication of a work can affect the limitations on theexclusive rights of the copyright owner that are set forthin sections 107 through 122 of the law.
  3. The year of publication may determine the duration ofcopyright protection for anonymous and pseudonymousworks (when the author’s identity is not revealed in therecordsof the Copyright Office) and for works made forhire.
  4. Deposit requirements for registration of published worksdiffer from those for registration of unpublished works.
  5. When a work is published, it may bear a notice of copyrightto identify the year of publication and the name ofthe copyright owner and to inform the public that thework is protected by copyright.


Helping Artists and Software Clients

A Khullar P.A. copyright attorney assists our clients in digital rights management, electronic media, the Internet, and cyberspace. Additionally, the firm helps client protect their right to reproduce his or her work, to prepare derivative copies, to distribute the work, and to prepare or perform the work publicly.