Copyright can be a confusing legal subject. Essentially, securing copyright protection gives a creator or assignee the exclusive legal right to print, publish, perform, film, or record literary, artistic or musical material, and to authorize others to do the same. But there is persisting confusion about just what copyright law does and does not cover. Daniel Law offers this quick checklist of common copyright misconceptions.
- Copyright protects ideas: Not so. Copyright protection applies only to tangible expressions of an idea, including documents, written or recorded music, completed artwork, written screenplays and produced programs, for example.
- Copyright protects names and titles: On the contrary, names, titles, logos and slogans fall under trademark law rather than copyright law.
- If it's on the Internet, it's public domain: Just because it's posted on the internet and publicly accessible doesn't make it fair game for use by anyone. Public domain comes into play only once a copyright expires, typically many years after the author's death.
- If it lacks a copyright notice, it's fair game: Use of copyright notices in the United States once was required but that hasn't been the case since the Berne Convention Implementation Act of 1989. That said, placing the optional copyright notice on your work certainly won't hurt and may help avoid infringement.
- I can legally use someone else's work if I change it: Only the owner of copyright in a work has the right to create or authorize creation of an adaptation of the copyrighted work. If you don't have express permission, you may face copyright infringement allegations.
- I'm free to copy up to 10 percent of someone else's work: This is not the case unless a work falls under fair use or fair dealing rules or is authorized by the copyright holder.
- I can copy someone else's work if I don't use it commercially: Again, unless you have express permission or the work fall under fair use or fair dealing rules, any unauthorized copying or publication of a work likely is an infringement, even if you don't make a dime from it. This includes copying DVDs for friends, as it's considered lost revenue for filmmakers.
To secure and defend copyright protection for your creative work, contact an experienced copyright attorney with Orlando's Daniel Law Offices at 866-37PATENT.