Legal Ramifications – Copyright II

A creative work is protected by copyright from the moment the work assumes a tangible form – which in copyright circles means as soon as the work is “fixed in a tangible means of expression.”  You don’t have to put a notice on the work – or register it with the US Copyright Office in Washington to get protection – although there are some benefits to doing these things if you are creating a major work.copyright photo

So, as soon as I post this article to “The Bloggers’ Bulletin” the copyright to the work is done and I, as the author, have the right to stop others from copying my work.

If another blogger copies my work and posts it to his blog as his own, he or she would be liable to me for copyright infringement.

If I want statutory damages in the US (damages set by a statute rather than what I can prove I lost), I need to prove that the infringer knew what he was doing, that is, that this was not an “innocent” infringement.  This is easier to prove if I use the standard copyright notice.  The usual notice is (c) year of publication, author, or, in this case (c) 2010 Nils Montan.

If I want to sue the infringer in the US, I have to register my work with the US Copyright Office.  The Office has a very helpful website with a lot of information plus the forms you will need to register your work at http://www.copyright.gov.

Unless you are creating the work for an employer within the course and scope of your employment, or unless you have been commissioned to create the work under contract, or unless you assign the work, you, as the author of the work, are the copyright owner and entitled to all the rights under the law of copyright.

Copyright protection around the world are fairly similar due to the Berne Convention, under which member countries must afford copyright protection to authors who are nationals of any member country.  The Berne Convention allows US authors to enforce their copyrights in most countries and allows the nationals of those countries to enforce their copyrights in the US.

  6 comments for “Legal Ramifications – Copyright II

  1. January 5, 2010 at 3:24 pm

    Hi Nils,
    I’ve been waiting on this post….lol. Very helpful information at just the right time of needing it too.

    Question: What if I want to give all copyright to the person I’m writing for? For example: I write an article for ABC Company and they use it to post to their blogs or whatever. Now I know that I will always retain the copyright to that material…..but, what if I wanted to assign that copyright over to ABC Company? How do I do that?

    Just curious and will do some research as well. Getting ready to do just that, produce articles and I might consider selling the copyright or giving it to them.

    Thanks so much for your help and wonderful article!

    Deb :)

  2. January 5, 2010 at 6:06 pm

    Copyrights are very flexible Deb and can be split up in a few ways. Once you assign them though, they are more or less gone forever. It’s better just to grant someone a simple license to use your material for a particular purpose, the publication in a magazine for example, while you keep the copyright in the underlying work to use for a book anthology. It usually depends on the relative bargaining power of the parties, however, and most old line publishers would probably require a full assignment from you.

  3. January 6, 2010 at 4:30 am

    Thank you so much Nils for the great advice. I think I will keep the copyright to my material and like you said, grant them a simple license to use on their blogs, web sites or magazine.

    Do you have any idea where I can find examples of such license wording for those types of agreements?

    Thanks again for all your help, it is much appreciated!!

    Have a superb day!

    Deb :)

  4. January 6, 2010 at 2:17 pm

    I found a site called legalforms.com that has copyright forms for sale for about 12 bucks Deb. There will be other vendors and I would prefer you to spend a little money on some good forms rather than get some flaky free form somewhere. Licensing is obviously a little more complicated than an assignment because you are retaining ownership, but believe it or not most law is actually common sense. If you feel uneasy find me and I will help you out.

  5. January 6, 2010 at 2:21 pm

    Thank you SO much Nils for your continued help! I will check into that site and see what they may have for me. Your instructions and directions are priceless and I cannot thank you enough! If I happen to run into any problems, I’ll be sure to find you….LOL….Thanks again dear!
    Deb :)

  6. January 6, 2010 at 2:34 pm

    I think I am on almost every social media platform known to mankind. My trademark is, “if you can’t find me you are not trying very hard.”

    Nils

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