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Copywriter copyrights?

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What is the name of your state? CA

I'm a Freelance Business Writer curious as to how I may protect my work.

Should copywriters get copyrights for each piece of original work, or does this type of intellectual property hold any automatic protections?

I read somewhere that if one just places the copyright symbol on their work, it works just as well at preventing theft of this property, and would be cheaper than buying copyrights for each work and taking each offender to court. It said that the likelyhood of winning in court is so small, it's not worth paying for the copyright, then payinig to sue.

Or is there some "registration" for writers that would protect all their work, as it is published or purchased? It just seems awfully expensive to purchase copyrights for each piece of intellectual property produced.

How should this sort of thing be handled?
 


mari79

Junior Member
17 USC 102(a) Copyright protection subsists, in accordance with this title, in original works of authorship fixed in any tangible medium of expression...

Firstly, this page should answer most of the questions, and in more detail: http://www.copyright.gov/circs/circ1.html

So as the author of a work you have a copyright - registration is not a prerequisite for a copyright (although it is a prereq for a suit for infringement)
Its an automatic protection that begins as soon as the work is "fixed", i.e. written, etc.

"The copyright in the work of authorship immediately becomes the property of the author who created the work."
http://www.copyright.gov/circs/circ1.html#wccc

You should always place a copyright notice on your work because it does just that - places people on notice that the work is protected by copyright.

Whether you should be registering each work with the copyright office, thats something for you to decide for yourself or consult with your attorney. Be aware that you can fill out and file the copyright app yourself to cut the costs down. But as previously stated, you have copyright in the work regardless of whether you register it or not.
 

divgradcurl

Senior Member
mari79's post has most of the general information that should help you understand copyrights in your contexts. I'll add a few specific comments.

I read somewhere that if one just places the copyright symbol on their work, it works just as well at preventing theft of this property, and would be cheaper than buying copyrights for each work and taking each offender to court. It said that the likelyhood of winning in court is so small, it's not worth paying for the copyright, then payinig to sue.
The copyright symbol (the "C" in a circle), as noted by mari79, is no longer a requirement for copyright protection -- it is optional. However, if you do add the copyright symbol, along with the name of the author and the year of creation of the copyrighted work, then if you ever do need to sue someone, the infringer may not claim "innocent infringer," and thereby limit his or her exposure to damages.

The same protection is gained by registering your works with the U.S. copyright office. A registration puts the entire country "on notice," so there is no way to claim "innocent infringer." Further registration is required to pursue a copyright infringement case, as previously noted. Finally, the biggest advantage to registration is the ability to pursue "statutory damages" if you do ever end up in litigation.

In copyright litigation, if the copyright was federally registered with the copyright office BEFORE infringement occured, then the copyright owner has the option of suing for actual damages -- in other words, the proveable monetary losses suffered by the copyright owner -- or statutory damages, damages that are set by statutes. In many (if not most) cases, it can be difficult or impossible to figure out exactly how much "damage" you suffered as a result of infringing activities. If you can sue for statutory damages, you can sue for an amount that may make litigation worthwhile, even if you can't prove any actual damages. That's the main advantage of statutory damages.

Registration only requires filling out a single 2-page form (a form TX for literary works), and sending that form in with a copy of the work you want protected and $30. No lawyer needed.

Or is there some "registration" for writers that would protect all their work, as it is published or purchased?
There are different forms and costs for "serial" works or certain types of collaborative works, but there is no general way for an author to automatically register any work he or she produces.

It just seems awfully expensive to purchase copyrights for each piece of intellectual property produced.
It's an expense, that's for certain -- but whether or not it is worth it depends on what you want to be able to accomplish later on. If you don't register your works, it's true that you still have a copyright on those works -- but unless there is a large market for your works, or they otherwise have some intrinsic value, it may be difficult or impossible to prove up damages, which may make enforcement of your copyrights impractical. On the other hand, if you do register your works, then you always have the option of suing for statutory damages, which can range up to $30,000 per infringed work, which might make it practical to enforce your copyrights, even if the market for your copyrighted work is not big or is difficult to prove.
 

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