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Protect Yourself Online - Get the Facts About Copyrighted Work

By TaSha Franklin

Copyright law is by no means "simple".  There are lawyers, specifically just for copyright law. I am going to try and save you some time and give you some  basic information to help you decide.

Copyright is a set of exclusive rights granted to the author or creator of an original work, including the right to copy, distribute and adapt the work. The laws have changed a bit since the late 1970's. Basically, the moment you create your work, it is legally copyrighted. You do not have to "register" a copyright in order for it to be valid; however, a registered copyright will protect you more in the event of copyright infringement. If, this nasty little thing happens to you, and you proceed with a suit, you will be entitled to "statutory" damages. Meaning, you do not have to prove a loss of sales/profit, the damages received are set by statute. If your copyright is not registered, you will still legally be able to proceed with a suit; however, you are only entitled to "actual" damages. In other words, you will have to prove your loss in profit and how much. You will also have to pay your attorney fees. Very scary thought.

HOW TO OBTAIN A REGISTERED COPYRIGHT

If you decide to register your copyright, you will need to submit an application along with a $45 fee to the copyright office in your Country. Your copyright is legally registered the day it's received at the copyright office; however, you may not receive your copyright certificate for up to four months. You can also apply online. The U.S. Government Copyright Official website is http://www.copyright.gov.

HOW TO OBTAIN AN UNREGISTERED COPYRIGHT

If you decide not to register your copyright, you can still add it to your work, hopefully to deter anyone from getting any big idea's. You can simply type:

"Copyright © (year) by (author/owner)"


If  you're working in Microsoft Word, you can get the © symbol by holding down Ctrl, Alt, and C. If you're using something other than word, you do not have to have the © symbol, it just looks more official. The word copyright will be sufficient. Also, the top right hand corner is usually where the copyright goes; however, I think as long as you have it on your work, it should serve you well.

One more thing. Many people make the mistake of believing that they can copyright a name, or a phrase. You can't. That would fall under trademark protection, which is a different article entirely.


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