Copyrights FAQ

What is intellectual property?
Intellectual property rights control products of creative thought and include patents, trademarks, copyrights and trade secrets. Intellectual property law relating to e-commerce and the Internet is developing rapidly.
Why is intellectual property important?
Protecting innovation and maintaining competitive advantages is a must in today's economy. Equally important, and easily overlooked, is the necessity of respecting intellectual property of others.
How can a business manage intellectual property?
Someone in the business should be trained to recognize intellectual property issues and authorized to take action when issues arise. Prompt action can be essential to a successful result. The business should establish a relationship with an intellectual property lawyer.
What is a copyright?
A copyright provides a creator of an original artistic work the exclusive right to copy, publish and distribute the work. Copyright extends to works that are in a fixed, tangible form, including written works, art works, sound and video recordings, computer programs, and architectural works and blueprints.
How is a copyright created?
A copyright is created automatically when the qualifying work is created. The copyright lasts for the life of the creator plus an additional 70 years.
Who owns the copyright?
Copyright is initially owned by the creator of the work. An exception is "works made for hire", in which the copyright is owned by the employer. These include works prepared by an employee within the scope of employment or works made by an independent contractor who agreed in writing the work is made for hire.
Should a copyright be registered?
Yes, if the work has possible economic value. The copyright should be registered with the Copyright Office, preferably within three months of publication. This enables possible recovery of attorney fees and additional damages from an infringer.
Can works without a copyright notice be freely copied?
No. A copyright notice is not required on copyrighted works. Absence of a copyright notice or copyright symbol "©" does not mean a work can be copied. For example, many web pages do not include copyright notices yet have copyrighted content.