Copyright Questions And Answers

Did you know that Copyright is a form of intellectual property law and protection, grounded in the U.S. Constitution?

Copyright, to be exact, is “granted by law for original works of authorship fixed in a tangible medium of expression. Copyright covers both published and unpublished works.”

Before I go on, I want to make one thing very clear – a Copyright is very different from a Patent or a Trademark.

While a Copyright protects something written, a Patent protects “stuff” – like inventions or discoveries.

How exactly does a Copyright differ from a Patent or Trademark?
A Copyright protects original works of authorship (literary, dramatic, musical, and artistic works, such as poetry, novels, movies, songs, computer software, and architecture), while a Patent protects inventions or discoveries.

Ideas and discoveries are not protected by the Copyright law, although the way in which they are expressed may be.

A Trademark is a unique symbol or feature specifically characteristic of or identified with a specific person or thing.

When is your work protected by Copyright?
Your work is under Copyright protection the moment it is created and fixed in a tangible form.

How do I Copyright a name, title, slogan or logo?
A Copyright does not protect names, titles, slogans, or short phrases. In some cases, these things may be protected as Trademarks.

However, Copyright protection may be available for logo artwork that contains sufficient authorship. In some circumstances, an artistic logo may also be protected as a Trademark.

How long does a Copyright last?
The length of Copyright protection for a particular work depends on several factors, including whether it has been published, and, if so, the date of first publication.

As a general rule, for works created after January 1, 1978, Copyright protection lasts for the life of the author plus an additional 70 years.

For an anonymous work, a pseudonymous work, or a work made for hire, the Copyright lasts for a term of 95 years from the year of its first publication or a term of 120 years from the year of its creation, whichever expires first.

For works first published prior to 1978, the term will vary depending on several factors. To determine the length of Copyright protection for a particular work, consult chapter 3 of the Copyright Act (title 17 of the United States Code).

Answers to all your questions about Copyright can be found on the U.S. Government’s Copyright website.


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