A copyright is a form of intellectual property protection that gives the creator of a work the exclusive right to reproduce, create derivative works, distribute, and publicly perform or display it. Any unauthorized use of copyrighted material is illegal and subject to civil and criminal penalties. If you're based in Dallas and seeking counsel that understand local regulation regarding copyrights, this article will provide an overview of the process and how to get started.

Copyright laws exist to protect creative expression and works of authorship, which can include written works, music, movies, sculptures, graphics, and computer programs. Understanding the legal structure of these laws ensures that authors, creators, and publishers are fairly compensated for their original creations. Within the United States, the Copyright Office is a part of the Library of Congress and is responsible for registering and protecting copyrighted works. To be eligible for copyright protection, the work must be expressed in a tangible form such as an audio recording, painting, or a digital file.

What Does Copyright Protect?

Copyright protection can be granted to a variety of original works, including:

Literary works (books, journals, articles, databases)

Musical works (songs, soundtracks, compositions, scores)

Visual works (architectural drawings, photographs, sculptures, paintings, logos)

Audiovisual works (movies, games, shows, advertisements)

Software programs

It's important to note that copyright protection does not cover ideas, procedures, concepts, systems, processes, principles, and discoveries, only the tangible expression of these items. For example, if an author comes up with a new storyline for a novel, only the expression of that storyline is eligible for copyright protection, not the storyline itself (which is subject to patent protection). Copyright protection will extend to any translations, adaptations, and other derivatives of the original work as well.

How to Register a Copyright

In the United States, copyright is granted by federal law and registration with the Copyright Office is voluntary. That being said, registration with the Copyright Office does provide extra levels of protection should the copyright be violated. To register a copyright, the creator must first create a work that is eligible for copyright protection, meaning that it must be original and in a tangible form. Once the work is prepared, the creator should then visit the U.S. Copyright Office to complete and file a registration form as well as submit the original work.

There are two types of copyright registration: standard and expedited. Standard registration comes with an application fee of $50 per work, takes approximately eight months to receive a decision, and can be rejected for various reasons, including insufficient explanation for the type of work or missing or inadequate required documents. Expedited registration costs $800 per work and is processed in 4-6 weeks. However, this option is only available to U.S. citizens, and applications are subject to review by a Copyright Office analyst to determine that they are eligible.

How to Protect a Copyright

In the event that a copyright is violated, the creator can take legal action in the form of a copyright infringement lawsuit. In order to prevail in such a suit, the copyright owner must be able to prove that the alleged infringer had access to the copyrighted material and that the work was copied or derived from the original without the copyright owner's permission. A copyright owner can also seek an injunction or monetary damages, including lost profits, if the copyright violation was willful.

If a copyright registration application is approved, the creator should keep all records and evidence of the original work, including date of creation, date of registration, diagrams, photographs, sketches, and other records. This will help to prove ownership should a dispute arise. Additionally, the owner should safeguard the original work and only provide copies to authorized parties or as required by law.

How Can UpCounsel Help?

UpCounsel helps entrepreneurs, startups, and independent creators protect and leverage their copyrightable works. UpCounsel’s online lawyers are experienced business attorneys with an average of 14 years of experience. Clients can post their project to get matched with the perfect attorney for their needs, and the attorney selection process is extremely easy. Further, UpCounsel offers a transparent profile system that displays detailed profiles of the online attorneys, providing insight into client ratings, reviews and details on recent work. Leverage UpCounsel’s desgin to gain access to high quality attorneys on demand and let UpCounsel take all the hassle of finding a lawyer off your plate.




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