Copyright Quickie

I thought today I would share some info on something that I get questions on all the time: Copyright.  It is tough to figure out how to legally protect content so others do not use and profit from it.

Did you know that just writing “copyright” on your webpage is not going to cut it in the courtroom.

Here are some facts about U.S. Copyright Protection

  • Creative and literary works do automatically have copyright protection when a person creates in a fixed form, such as publishing online or writing a book.  There is a presumption that this is your work even without notice, but content is not legally protected until registered.

  • Material that can be registered: Literary Work: (words and/or text, including books, articles, online works, and computer programs), Visual Arts (artwork, illustrations, photographs, and sculptures), Sound Recordings, Performing Arts, Audio Visual Work.

  • Having a copyright gives you the exclusive right to do (or authorize others to) reproduce the work, distribute copies to the public by sale, or display publicly.

  • There is no “international copyright” that will protect work around the world; each nation has its own rules. But the U.S. does have copyright relations with many countries because of several treaties in place.

In the United States, you cannot sue for your work unless it is registered! Registration includes submitting an application, non-refundable filing fee ($35), and a copy of the work to be protected. Processing takes 2-3 months.

Imagine you find out another site is selling your ebook for twice as much and raking it in.

What can you do??

You can try and send a cease and desist letter and ask them to take it down or you can file a notice under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act who will send a notice claiming infringement but neither route is guaranteed.   

But remember: You cannot bring the infringer to court and get what is owed to you (lost profits) unless you already have registered the work.