Thursday, October 4, 2007

Copyrights 101 - Part 2 - Time

Copyrights 101 - Part 2

Today is all about time. For Marguerite - is it nap time or play time? The picture was just too cute and I had to share! What a better reminder of time than this!

There's more to the Copyright Saga....thank you for staying "tuned!" I hope you will see, copyrights are really not "scary." They are incredibly useful business assets!

Length of Ownership

A work that was created (fixed in tangible form for the first time) on or after January 1, 1978, is automatically protected from the moment of its creation and is ordinarily given a term enduring for the author’s life plus an additional 70 years after the author’s death. In the case of “a joint work prepared by two or more authors who did not work for hire,” the term lasts for 70 years after the last surviving author’s death. For works made for hire, and for anonymous and pseudonymous works (unless the author’s identity is revealed in Copyright Office records), the duration of copyright will be 95 years from publication or 120 years from creation, whichever is shorter.

(PLEASE NOTE - The above comments are only directly dealing with those works created AFTER 1978 and after all appropriate notice provisions were removed from the Copyright Act of 1978. This is where you will DEFINITELY need to seek your own counsel if you have questions!)

The above statement is directly from For most works, the copyright protection lasts "life of the author plus 70 years." That is a LONG time. It is important to note something that I put in bold up above. Copyright protection in the US is established at the "moment of creation." It is registration that affords you the opportunity to take advantage of the copyright protection. That is why registration is so important!

The Length of copyright has its own day because it is often overlooked. Copyright registration gives you the most "bang for your buck." It is the most inexpensive form of intellectual property protection and it does not have a use requirement to keep it active. Patents and trademarks have requirements for use and for the most part, additional filing requirements. Copyrights keep their protection length whether or not they are registered. However, it is the registration that gives you the enhanced features of copyright protection. (That is a separate blog).

The moral of today's story is simple - copyrights last a long time and shouldn't be overlooked. Copyright protection is established at the moment of creation - PERIOD. We learned yesterday that it must be a fixed, tangible medium, but that is it. Where else in the federal government system can you get over 120 years protection for only $45 in fees???

Time to Register

Back to what our friends at the US Copyright Office have to say:

Registration may be made at any time within the life of the copyright. Unlike the law before 1978, when a work has been registered in unpublished form, it is not necessary to make another registration when the work becomes published, although the copyright owner may register the published edition, if desired.

Read are the benefits of time for registering "timely:"

  • Before an infringement suit may be filed in court, registration is necessary for works of U.S. origin.
  • If made before or within 5 years of publication, registration will establish prima facie evidence in court of the validity of the copyright and of the facts stated in the certificate.
  • If registration is made within 3 months after publication of the work or prior to an infringement of the work, statutory damages and attorney's fees will be available to the copyright owner in court actions. Otherwise, only an award of actual damages and profits is available to the copyright owner.

Time is important to copyright registration. While protection attaches at creation, if registration occurs in this time frame, benefits accrue. However, the key is that is it never too late to register.


Don't Forget

Don't forget to make suggestions for topics you would like to see. We are starting to get some serious activity on this blog - and lots of private comments (which is just fine with me).

It's a beautiful day here in Ohio and it doesn't even seem like fall.
Create with Your Heart and Your Head!


claudine hellmuth said...

great advice for all artists to register their work! It's really not hard to do and good for peace of mind :)

Vicki said...

Great post!

My sister, Pam Burge sent me your link and this is a great post. As a writer these are things you want and need to know.

Robin Beam said...

Tammy: Marguerite is awesome, and so are you with your wonderful information!


Tammy L. Browning-Smith, J.D., LL.M said...

Welcome one and all! Thank you for visiting!

The Fine Print!

Since there may be legal discussions going on...there must be a disclaimer!

This blog is for educational and information purposes only. It does not constitute the practice of law. The attorney who writes this blog is only licensed in the State of Ohio and Michigan. There is NO attorney-client relationship of any type. You must sign appropriate documenation and have appropriate new client counseling to be a client of Browning-Smith, P.C. Each and every situation is different and all readers must seek his or her own legal counsel. The information on this blog is not guaranteed for any purposes nor is it to be relied on.