What is a Copyright?
A copyright is essentially you’re own little monopoly over your creative works, and it comes with five rights (i.e. reproduction, distribution, public performance and display, and derivative works), plus a sixth right for sound recordings (i.e. digital public performance).
How do I get a Copyright?
By fixing your work into tangible form, such as a writing, recording, or otherwise taking what’s in your head and transferring it into a medium which can be perceived.
Do I have to register my copyright?
No, you don’t “have to.”
Should I register my copyright?
Most definitely. Why? Because, with few exceptions, you need a registration to file a copyright infringement lawsuit.
Can’t I just mail myself a copy of my work?
You can… but it won’t do anything meaningful.
When should I register my copyright?
Ideally, before publishing the work. Second best option is within 3 months of publishing the work.
How much does it cost to register my copyright?
If you’re a human person and the only owner of the work (i.e. one work), it costs $35. If you’re operating as a company and creating works for hire, it costs $55. Those are the two most common ones. There are a few others.
The cost is subject to change soon, so keep an eye on the Copyright Office’s site. https://www.copyright.gov/about/fees.html.
Can I copyright an idea?
No. You can only copyright your particular expression of an idea. Consider this example:
Idea – A modern bible story
Expression of the Idea – The Matrix
Is covering a song considered “Fair Use”?
Negative, Ghost Rider.
Do I need a license to cover a song?
Yes. Some people may be getting away with not having one, but it’s not lawful. If they’re getting away with it, it’s only until the owners stop allowing it.
How long does my copyright last?
If you’re a human person, it lasts 70 years past your death. If you’re a company, then it’ll be considered a “work for hire”, in which case it lasts either 90 years from publication or 120 years from creation, whichever is shorter.
What’s the difference between a Copyright and a Trademark?
There’s several differences, but the main is that copyrights are for creative works, while trademarks are for the name, logo, or slogan (to only name a few) which are used to identify your goods or services.