If you have recently downloaded music, read a novel or watched a movie in Texas, it is likely that the works you have been consumed have been copyrighted. Copyrighting is a type of protection built in the U.S. Constitution for original works of authorship that are based in a tangible form of expression. The following is a basic overview of copyrights under U.S. federal law.
What types of works are protected by copyrights?
Copyrights are a type of intellectual property. They protect original works, including books, music, plays, movies, music, computer software and architecture. It is important to note that copyrights do not offer any protection for facts, ideas, systems or methods. Rather, it protects the way these concepts are expressed.
How are copyrights different from trademarks?
Copyrights protect original works of authorship. In contrast, trademarks protect words, phrases, symbols or designs related to a specific good or service, distinguishing the trademark owner’s goods or services from those of a competitor.
Registration of copyrights
The registration of a copyright is not mandatory. Copyrights exist from the moment the protected work comes into being. However, if you want to pursue a legal claim based on copyright infringement, your copyright will need to be registered. Registered works may be eligible for statutory damages and attorney’s fees. In addition, if you register your copyrighted work within five years of its creation, this is “prima facie” evidence in the event of a legal claim.
Learn more about copyrights
This is only a very brief overview of U.S. copyright law. This post is for educational purposes only and does not contain legal advice. Our firm’s webpage on copyrights may be of interest to those who want to learn more about this topic.