Everything You Need to Know About Copyright Law

What Is Copyright?

Copyright is a form of intellectual property protection grounded in the U.S. Constitution. It is granted by law for the original works of authorship fixed in a tangible medium of expression. This means that the work must exist in some physical form for at least some period of time, and the work must be original – or independently created by the author. Copyright can cover both published and unpublished works, but it must be the result of some creative effort by the author.


What Does It Protect?

Copyright protects original works of authorship such as: literary, dramatic, musical, and artistic works. Copyright does not protect facts, ideas, systems, or methods of operation. Facts are not protected even if the author spends a considerable amount of time discovering facts that were previously unknown.


How Does A Copyright Differ From A Patent Or A Trademark?

Whereas patents protect inventions or discoveries, and a trademark protects words, phrases, symbols, or designs, copyright protects original works of authorship.


Is My Copyright Protected In Other Countries Too?

The United States has copyright relations with most countries throughout the world, where the governments of each country honor each other’s citizen’s copyrights. That being said, the United States doesn’t have copyright relationships with every country, so your copyright/patent/trademark may not be protected in certain areas of the world.


How Long Does A Copyright Last?

For works published after 1977, copyright lasts for the life of the author plus 70 years. If the work is a commissioned work for hire project though, the copyright lasts between 95 and 120 years. That being said, all published works in the United States before 1923 are in the public domain.


If you found this article interesting, consider reading about Trademark FAQs.

Revised: May 16, 2022, 7:42 a.m.
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