Monday, October 15, 2007

Copyrights 101 - Registration..Some Thoughts

REGISTER???? It's that time. Here are some thoughts to get you going....

This is where the rubber meets the road. We've looked at what a copyright is, why you should register, what time impacts your decision, etc. Now it is time to register the copyright. Consider it...a title to a valuable business asset. You've decided to register...WHAT DO YOU DO???

Can I register the copyright myself?

Short answer...sure you can. Long answer...yes you can, but you must be warned - you wouldn't extract a tooth yourself, write the deed to your house yourself...why would you register your copyright yourself? No...this is not a shameless attempt from an attorney to get more business. I admit it, I have clients who register their own. Some of my clients have been registering their own copyrights well before they came to me and some after they came to me. The key is what type of copyrights are being registered, how often items need to be registered and how familiar you are with the process. Sometimes a quick legal consultation will suffice, other times...a little more indepth work may be required.

There are items you need to consider when registering a copyright. The question may seem simple on the copyright form, but it isn't necessary that simple. Here's what I mean...

Who owns the copyright? Are you really sure you own the copyright? Have you set up a business, perhaps an LLC or an Inc.? Should the business entity own it or maybe it shouldn't and you should assign it to the entity. Perhaps you are an employee of your company, then your company owns it automatically. Is this truly a Work for Hire? The first key to registering your copyright - KNOW WHO OWNS THE COPYRIGHT!

What type of work are you registering? Are you really registering the correct work? Are there 2D drawings to go with your 3D work? Are there sketches that go with your computer generated art? Did you take the photographs that you are using to display/promote your work? Are the instructions part of the work and who created them? The next key to registering your copyright - MAKE SURE YOU ARE REGISTERING THE CORRECT WORK AND ALL OF ITS PARTS?

What specimen are you going to send into the US Copyright Office? Did you know that there are requirements for sending in a specimen that include a copy for the Library of Congress? If you are registering a 3D work, did you include an accurate representation? Is the work published or unpublished? Is your work digital or 2D? How can you prove what specimen you sent in if the copyright office cannot find your work? Another important key to registering your copyright - MAKE SURE YOU ARE SENDING IN THE CORRECT SPECIMEN AND THAT THEY ARE APPROPRIATELY MARKED.

I don't want to scare you...really...

I hear so many people say that registering a copyright is "easy." It's only two pages (or one) and the instructions will walk you through it. That is correct, but only to a point. Issues of ownership, specimens, and the work to be claimed are often important items that get overlooked. If these areas are overlooked, it can invalid a copyright or make it terribly ineffective if you need to enforce your copyright. Our firm litigates copyright infringement cases for both Plaintiffs and Defendants. We see what a solid copyright registration can do to help or hurt a case.

Tomorrow we will discuss registering collections. We will also discuss a little more of the "template" idea that many artists use. These blogs have hopefully been getting you to realize that you need to register your copyrights...we don't want to scare you off now. We just want you to do it right the first time and every time. So hang in there with us. You'll be glad you did!

On a personal note, I hope you tried something new this weekend. I took my own advice and tried to spin yarn...the joy of visiting a local yarn store was heaven. The owner gave me a great demonstration and showed me different I just have to perfect my craft. My goal is to knit a shawl from my spun yarn...but I have to start somewhere. Hummm....guess that sounds like a lot of you and starting somewhere in registering your copyrights!

Have a great week!

Create with Your Heart and Your Head!


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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.