Article I, Section of the United States Constitution provides to “Authors … the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries,” so long as the work is “original.”
Section 106 of the 1976 Copyright Act provides the owner of a copyright the exclusive right to do and to authorize others to: (1) reproduce the work in copies or phonorecords; (2) prepare derivative works based upon the work; (3) distribute copies or phonorecords of the work to the public by sale or other transfer or ownership, or by rental, lease, or lending; (4) perform the work publicly in the case of literary, musical, dramatic, and choreographic works, pantomimes, and motion pictures and other audiovisual works; (5) display the copyrighted work publicly; and (6) In the case of sound recordings, to perform the work publicly by means of a digital audio transmission.
Under modern Copyright law, a copyright is created automatically once the work or writing is “fixed in a tangible medium of expression.” In other words, the work or writing has been recorded, videotaped, or put on paper. However, it is beneficial to register a copyright with the United States Copyright Office because the value of having the copyright registered with the U.S. Copyright Office before any infringement occurs may compensate you (if you prevail in the lawsuit) for special statutory damages and attorneys’ fees, such as lost profits from the infringing activity or statutory damages ranging from $250 to $150,000 for each infringing copy or even higher if the court finds that the person who copied your work willfully did so.
Duration of a Copyright
The duration of copyright protection depends on when the work was created. If a work has been created after January 1, 1978, it is automatically protected from the date of creation and is protected for the author’s life, plus 70 years after the author’s death. For works created before January 1, 1978, please see Circular 15, “Renewal of Copyright”; Circular 15a, “Duration of Copyright”; and Circular 15t, “Extension of Copyright Terms, from the U.S. Copyright Office, www.copyright.gov or contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For works made for hire (i.e., created at your direction), anonymous works and pseudonymous works (unless the author’s identity is revealed in Copyright Office records), the duration of copyright will be 95 years from publication or 120 years from creation, whichever is shorter.
For information concerning the fees for filing a Copyright registration, please contact The Law Offices of Karen J. Bernstein, LLC today.