Different Types of Idea Protection
Copyrights: Brief Introduction
By Stephen Paul Gnass
The U.S. Copyright Office states that "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' including literary, dramatic, musical, artistic and certain other intellectual works. This protection is available to both published and unpublished works."
A copyright is an extremely powerful and very inexpensive (just $20.00) protection which protects your specific form of expression. A copyright protects you against anyone copying your intellectual materials. For example, it protects you if you've written a book, article, lyrics, poem, artwork, photographs, literature.
Yet it is much broader in scope than most people think. It also covers the following broad categories:
Included within these categories are cartoons and comic strips, movies, video recordings, musical compositions and lyrics, sound recordings, multimedia works, computer programs, daily newspapers, automated databases, and online works.
For example, while it does not stop anyone else from writing a book on the same "subject" as yours, it does prevent direct copying or plagiarizing of paragraphs, chapters and materials from your own book as well as the main format.
When the work is ongoing, and there will be new sections added or updated material over time, there is also a special procedure on how to register this type of evolving work.
Generally, the copyright protection apply to any works "whether or not" the materials are officially copyrighted. However, registering the copyright with the U.S. Copyright Office makes it much easier to prove the copyright in court.
Additionally, since March 1, 1989 when the United States adhered to the Berne Convention, a copyright notice is also not required by law anymore. But having the copyright notice on any works helps to discourage infringement and can eliminate an "innocent infringement" defense where a person claims that he/she did not realize that the work was copyrighted.
This notice is a very simple process that you can do yourself. As soon as you begin distributing your work (even before you send in the copyright application), you can begin writing the following notification and information on all pages of your work.
Once you have the necessary forms from the copyright office and fill out and return them, you'll receive your copyright usually within about two months.
An excellent book about copyrights is Business Guide to Copyright Law: What You Don't Know Can Co$t You! by Woody Young, inventor of the Kit Kat Klock. Check it out at your local library, or purchase it from Amazon.com at NCIO's Online Bookstore
For specific details and information about copyrights, check the following web sites:
10 Myths About Copyrights Explained
Detailed Technical Information and Legislation About Copyrights