Copyright protects original works of authorship, including literary works; musical works, including any accompanying lyrics; dramatic works, including any accompanying music; pantomimes and choreographic works; pictorial, graphic, and sculptural works; motion pictures and other audiovisual works; sound recordings; and architectural works.
In order to be eligible for copyright protection, a work must satisfy two requirements: first, it must be fixed in a tangible medium of expression and second, it must display at least a modicum of creativity (put another way, this means it must be an original work). Under this standard, a telephone directory is subject to copyright protection, as is computer code. However, an idea for a concert or play, or an improvised piece of music cannot be copyrighted until it has been notated or recorded. An idea, even a useful idea, cannot be copyrighted until it is preserved in a tangible medium of expression.
Protections Afforded by Copyright
It is not necessary to register your copyright in order to obtain copyright protection. In the words of the U.S. Copyright Office, “Copyright is secured automatically when the work is created, and a work is ‘created’ when it is fixed in a copy or phonorecord for the first time.”
However, there are certain advantages to registering your work. These include the establishment of a public record; the ability to bring suit against an infringer; and if made within five years of publication, the establishment of prima facie evidence of the validity of the copyright. Furthermore, registering your work within three months of its publication date or prior to any infringement makes it much easier to sue and collect damages, including statutory damages and attorney fees.
Once a work is eligible for copyright protection, it is afforded a wide range of rights, including the right to copy the work for profit, the right to distribute the work domestically and internationally, the right to create derivative works, the right to control public performances of the work, and attribution rights, among other rights.
KLMR can help you to register your copyrightable works. From completing the correct U.S. Copyright Office forms to ascertaining that your samples meet applicable requirements and determining that your application packet is complete, we will help guide you through the requisite steps to successful copyright registration.
Our Attorneys in this Area
Barry G. Scholl joined the firm’s commercial and corporate law practice groups in 2006. Prior to joining Kruse Landa Maycock & Ricks, Mr. Scholl clerked for the Honorable Pamela T. Greenwood in the Utah Court of Appeals. His prior experience includes serving as the editor in chief of Salt Lake and Utah Outdoors magazines, the general manager of a dot-com company, and the senior editor of Utah Business magazine