A copyright is an exclusive right of the creator to reproduce, create secondary works based on the original idea, circulate, perform, display, sell, lend or rent their creations. Owning a copyright enables the owner to accrue monetary value from his or her creative and intellectual endeavours. This right can be protected by legally recognizing protection of those interests. Copyright protection is extended to published and unpublished works.
A copyright does not protect the same intellectual property as a patent or trademark would nor will it protect processes, systems, ideas or facts, although it could legally safeguard the way these things are expressed.
For quite some time, a person was granted a copyright interest in a piece of his or her work for a limited period of time, however such copyrights were renewable during the life time of that person who received the copyright in the first instance. A copyright exists whether the work is registered or not. Work that is usually copyrighted includes writings, music, theatre work, choreography, art, sculpture, pictures, movies, videos, etc. Listed below are good reasons to register a copyright.
- In the case of a dispute registration proves authenticity of a claim.
- Generally if the copyright registration is made within ninety days after publication of the work or prior to the violation of the work, damages arising from an infringement and other related expenses is usually available for the benefit the copyright owner in court actions.
- Copyright registration entitles the owner of the copyright to record the registration with Customs authorities for protection against the importation or exportation of infringing copies.
The following steps maybe employed to register a copyright for a particular work:
- Pre-registration check: Conduct a pre-registration check to establish that the work is unpublished and is in the process of being prepared for commercial distribution, with a given that the work falls within a class of works set out above.
- Forms for application: Visit or write to the copyright office and collect all necessary forms to apply for the copyright and ascertain the filing fees that would be applicable.
- Submission: Submit the copyrightable work to the copyright office along with the appropriate filing fees.
- Certificate of Registration: Receive a certificate of registration from the copyright office to demonstrate your copyright on the work. This is affirmative proof of your copyright.
The registration is effective the date the copyright office receives all the prescribed data in the required form and there is usually some form of communication endorsing that the relevant data has been received by the copyright office. In some instances the copyright office may reply to the effect that the copyright could not be issued and will give reasons to that effect.
Copyright is a legal right held by the copyright owner and infringing that right is punishable by law even if the infringement occurs in a different jurisdiction; rights are enforceable in different countries provided that there are copyright treaties between such countries to enforce rights held by copyright owners.