copyrights

Copyrights

Copyrights protect the originality or artistic content of books, music, paintings, photographs, screen plays and the like. As noted previously, copyrights are "common law" rights, which means that when you publish material with the copyright notice (C) in a circle, your name and the year on it, the originality or artistic content of that material belongs to you.

However, copyrights DO NOT protect the substance of that material. For example, if you are a professional photographer and you want to take a picture of the Statue of Liberty. With your years of experience, you decide what type of camera and film you want to use and you select a specific location to set up your tripod. Then, you check your light meter and, based upon your experience, you decide what aperture opening and shutter speed to use. When you take the picture, you can put the copyright notice on it. However, if I come along, immediately after you pack up your tripod and, based upon my own experience, happen to choose the same type of camera and film and happen to place my tripod in the same spot and, when I check my light meter, if I happen to select the same settings, based upon my own experience, I can take a picture and I can copyright it. Even though the two pictures will be identical both copyrights will be valid.

However, if you could prove that I somehow found out what type of camera and film you selected or that I saw you set up your tripod or somehow found out what settings you used then I am borrowing from you and not relying on my own expertise. Now, I am infringing on your copyright. But, you say, how in the world can anyone prove such "borrowing"? One way to prove borrowing is by the use of "copyright traps". A "copyright trap" is something, such as a deliberate error, which is put into a work so that, if it appears in someone else's work, it will show that the work was copied.

For example, my father was a patent attorney representing a ceramics manufacturer who made a swan vase. A competitor came out with a similar swan vase and my father phoned them and told them that they were infringing on his client's swan vase. "Nonsense" they replied, "everyone makes swan vases. What makes you think that we are infringing?" "I'll tell you", my father said, "Our swan vase as thirteen wing feathers on one side and twelve on the other. Now, in real life, a swan cannot fly with thirteen wing feathers on one side and twelve on the other. How come your swan vase has thirteen wing feathers on one side and twelve on the other?" "You're right." they said, "We give up." Similarly, in computer programs, you can write the program to do whatever you want. Then, go back and insert several nonsense statements, such as "Add 0", or "Add 6", in one place, and "Subtract 6", in another. since there is no reason for such statements to be in the program, if you find these statements in a competitor's program, you can be certain that they copied your work.

Registration

Copyrights are registered with the Register of Copyrights at the U.S. Library of Congress. A different form is required for each type of material, such as books, music, paintings, sculpture, etc. You can obtain the registration forms from them or from your local library or stationary supply store. The forms contain instructions for filling them out and what you need to send with the form as specimens of your work. You do not need professional assistance to do it! A professional will merely ask you the questions on the form and will charge you several hundred dollars for doing it. The government filing fee for copyright registration is $20.

Frequently Asked Copyright Questions

This area contains FAQ's for you to learn from. Please read this area before you submit a copyright question to us.

QUESTION : How do I file for a copyright? Can I do it with you guys or somebody else?

ANSWER : Take a look at our Do-It-Yourself Copyright Kit and this may help you with the process~ We also file copyrights for the price of $500.00 if you want us to do the work.

QUESTIONS : Are patents, provisionals, trademarks and copyrights transferable?

ANSWER : In response to your questions to InventionAid.com, please be advised that patents, applications (Provisional and utility), trademarks and copyrights ARE transferable. They are all "property", just like real estate and can be sold or rented (licensed) like any other type of property. Patents, trademarks and copyrights are sold by a contract called an "assignment", which should be recorded with the appropriate government agency.

QUESTION : Can an individual copyright or patent a phrase? If so, is the same process and costs involved as patenting or an invention?

ANSWER : In response to your question to InventionAid.com, the appropriate protection for a phrase depends upon how you are using the phrase. If you are using it in a trademark sense, you would protect it as a trademark. If you are using it as artistic matter, you might protect it by copyright. If you will tell us what the phrase is and how you are using it, we can give you a more specific answer.

QUESTION : Can an individual copyright or patent a phrase? If so, is the same process and costs involved as patenting or an invention?

ANSWER : In response to your question to InventionAid.com, the appropriate protection for a phrase depends upon how you are using the phrase. If you are using it in a trademark sense, you would protect it as a trademark. If you are using it as artistic matter, you might protect it by copyright. If you will tell us what the phrase is and how you are using it, we can give you a more specific answer.


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