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With the easy access of the Internet, more people are writing and creating and displaying their art publicly than ever before. As a marketing coach, I receive many questions about copyrights – how to get your own, and how to know about someone else’s work.
WHAT EXACTLY IS A COPYRIGHT?
According to the U. S. Copyright Office, a 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.”
You can see it’s a broad definition. One of the most important things to note is that it’s a misconception that you must use a copyright notice on your work, or see one on someone else’s for it to be copyrighted. This was required at one time, but is no longer.
So, just because you’re looking at someone’s Internet course, or reading an article they wrote, and it doesn’t have a copyright notice on it – either on the Internet or hard copy – doesn’t mean it isn’t copyrighted. In fact it is copyrighted the minute it takes tangible form.
According to the U. S. Copyright Office, the following “works of authorship” are covered:
1.Literary works 2.Musical works, including any accompanying words 3.Dramatic works, including any accompanying music 4.Pantomimes and choreographic works 5.Pictorial, graphic and sculptural works 6.Motion pictures and other audiovisual works 7.Sound recordings 8.Architectural works
Immediately the minute you create your work in “fixed form” it is your property.
The U. S. Copyright office specifies that all these categories should be taken broadly. For instance a map could be registered as “pictorial work.” There are benefits to registering, of course.
But do understand that someone else’s work is copyrighted whether there’s the symbol on it. Respect the international copyright law! When in doubt, contact the person for permission.
For more information, go here: http://www.copyright.gov .
And of course always check with an intellectual property attorney for legal information.