The Basics of Copyrighting Your Work

When it comes to intellectual property, copyrighting something correctly is an issue that’s heavily contested. This isn’t because it’s difficult to get a copyright for something; it’s quite the opposite – it’s very easy. Technically, as soon as you create your work, you own the copyright whether it is published or not. However, official registration with the USPTO allows copyright protection to be extended.

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How to Register a Copyright:

In order to register your copyright, you need to create an account with the eCO Online System and fill out the online form. If you file online, you will need to pay a basic fee of $35. Typically, processing times are faster for online applications, but it will take around three to four months. The alternative is a paper application; you can download the form or pick a copy up from your small business administration office and mail it in instead. The fee for applying offline is $65 and it will generally take between five and eight months to process.

Copyright Protection Myths:

Copyright protection is fairly easy and cheap to obtain, but there are some old tricks that have been going around for a while. One of the most common is to take a copy of your creative work, seal it in an envelope and mail it to yourself, which many believe will give you all the protections of copyright protection, but this isn’t the case. The process isn’t recognized under law, and while you will still have standard copyright protection for any intellectual property you create, mailing it to yourself won’t give you any additional protection.

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Determining Infringement:

There are several things that could be considered infringement, including taking something from your work and creating something new from it. However, if it is a minor part of your work, such as a description of a setting in a story that you write or a small part of the background in a painting, using it is less likely to be considered infringement. On the other hand, infringement would take place if somebody takes something that makes your work special. This is part of what often makes copyright law difficult to deal with, as it has to apply legal rules to human creation. It also needs to measure one piece of work against others to determine whether they are legally different or too similar to one another. If you believe that somebody has stolen your intellectual property, a copyright attorney can help.

Detecting Copyright Infringement:

When you create something, it’s important to ensure that you understand it in relation to other, often similar works. Understand why you selected the particular characters in your story, for example, or certain colors for a painting. When you understand what makes your work unique compared to others, you are better able to look for these unique features in other works. Copyright infringement is not always obvious, and subtle copies can be more difficult to detect if you’re not sure what makes your work unique.

Registering for additional copyright protection is an easy process, but it pays to be alert to the unique factors of your work in order to easily spot any copyright infringement.

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