Understanding Copyright Protection

Authors, poets, artists, and film creators, among others, have their rights to their original works protected by copyright law. A work must be “fixed in a physical medium of expression” to qualify for copyright protection. This implies that the work must exist in some physical form for at least some time, regardless of how fleeting. Any kind of expression can be considered a physical medium.

Furthermore, the work must be original – that is, it must have been made by the author on his or her own. It makes no difference if an author’s work is identical to others’ works or if it is deemed to be deficient in quality, inventiveness, or artistic appeal. Copyright protects the author’s work as long as he or she does not copy from another source.

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Finally, a work must be the result of at least some creative effort on the part of its creator in order to get copyright protection. There is no hard and fast rule when it comes to how much inventiveness is sufficient. For instance, a work must be more creative than the white pages of a telephone book, which consist of an alphabetical listing of phone numbers rather than a creative selection of entries.

You can register your copyright with the United States Copyright Office if certain pre-requisites are met. This establishes a presumption of ownership and permits you to file a lawsuit in federal court against infringers. Authors have some exclusive rights to their work under copyright law. The exclusive right to duplicate or resell the work is one of these rights. A cartoonist with a website, for example, would almost probably be eligible for copyright protection. The cartoons are unique and, at the very least, creative.