If you’ve created an excellent new creative work, you want to protect your rights to it. If the work is not registered with the U.S Copyright office, you will not be able to sue for copyright infringement. Registration also makes your work searchable to the public in a database so that people in Tampa and around the world can find that the work is legally protected. Below are seven useful things to know about copyright registration before you proceed.

1. Is Copyright Applicable in My Case?

To be copyrighted, a work generally must be of a literary, artistic, or musical nature. This standard encompasses things such as musical scores, video games, books, plays, poems, and paintings. It also applies to artistic performances recorded on a tangible medium, such as video or audio. If you make a recording of yourself singing a Mozart aria, the recording will fall under copyright law. It is best to check with legal experts in Tampa before pursuing registration, as there are some exceptions. For example, you cannot register a recipe as your intellectual property. While a cookbook falls within the guidelines of protection, the recipes included are not actually your intellectual property.

2. The Extent of Copyright Registration Protection

In the United States, a copyright lasts for the duration of the author’s life plus 70 years. Afterward, the work goes into the public domain, and people will be able to use, reproduce, republish, or perform the work freely without asking for permission or paying royalties. Some extenuating circumstances vary the extent of protection. Commissioned pieces and works written by an anonymous author or an author using a pseudonym are protection anywhere from 95 years after initial publication to 120 years after it was written.

3. Works with More Than One Author

If you and a colleague team up to create Tampa! The Musical, the next hit Broadway show, you each will get a share of the rights to the work. If one of you dies before the other, the deceased person’s share of the rights to Tampa! will go to his or her heirs, rather than to the collaborator.

4. Fair Use and Its Extent

Let’s say a student loves the Tampa! musical so much that they decide to use it as the topic for their next school presentation. Under copyright law, they would be able to do so without any legal repercussions. Under the Fair Use Doctrine, in some cases, a person can quote or feature brief excerpts of a piece without needing to ask for the author’s permission. Such cases usually involve situations where the excerpts are used for educational, research, scholarship, news reporting, or parody purposes, or to comment on or criticize a piece of work. For more information on the specifics and nuances of Fair Use doctrine, one should consult an attorney who specializes in the laws of copyright registration.

5. Registration Timeframe in Tampa

You should ideally pursue copyright registration within three months of its publication date. The best time to register, however, is shortly before the release. However, registering any time before a case of infringement would allow you to sue for statutory damages and collect attorneys’ fees.

6. Other Forms of Intellectual Property Rights

Due to the type of intellectual property you possess, a copyright registration might not be possible. This does not mean there is no way to safeguard your ideas. Patents and trademarks are two other common forms of IP rights or Intellectual property rights. Though the terms are often used interchangeably, they all refer to different areas. A patent refers to an invention while a trademark refers to logos and brand names used on goods and services. It is vital you have an understanding of this before filling out an application, as filling out the wrong application will waste time and money. To ensure you are taking the correct steps, consult a Tampa lawyer who specializes in copyright registration.

7. Do Not Waste Your Time on the Poor Man’s Copyright

Poor Man’s Copyright refers to a practice that some people think will grant them extra protection. This practice involves mailing a copy of your original work to yourself through the postal service to get a government stamp that details the time and date the work was sent. By leaving the package sealed, people believe this serves as proof of ownership beginning at a documented date, only opening the package if an issue arises in court. Unfortunately, this method of “copyright registration” does not offer any additional protection. You can, however, apply for additional protection. Consult a Tampa attorney to learn the steps involved in this process.

Having copyright registration for your work will also protect your right to any benefits that result from the work. If you want to keep your masterpiece safe from infringement with copyright registration, contact Larson and Larson in Tampa or simply call (813) 223-3226.