Maiorana, P.C.

Copyright Background

Do I need to register a Copyright?

We often use the characterization “intellectual property law” to discuss the overall discussion of intangible rights. We often break this down into Patents, Trademarks and Copyrights. We spend the majority of our time working on obtaining patents for our clients. We spend some time on trademarks. Copyrights get less attention.

A copyright is a form of protection provided by the laws of the U.S. for “original works of authorship”. For example, literary, dramatic, musical, architectural, graphic, and audiovisual creations to name a few.

You might ask, what does a copyright cover? What do I need to do to protect something subject to copyright?

Copyrights cover things that are presented in a “tangible“ form that generally needs to be something that is written down, or something that is recorded that can be later played back. In a more exotic type of situation, in the case of semiconductors, there are copyrights for mask works.

Back in the 1960s, Martin Luther King‘s “I had a Dream” speech was not directly covered by copyright. However, they printed up leaflets, which did meet the tangible medium requirement for copyright coverage. It seems like a strange workaround, but that’s how these types of situations tend to go.

In general, anything that is subject to copyright protection is automatically covered. You don’t need to file with the copyright office to obtain coverage. However, if you wish to enforce your copyright against a potential infringer, then you need to file at the copyright office. You need a copyright registration number before filing a lawsuit. The registration process can take a few months, so if a potential lawsuit is brewing, it might pay to file your copyright registration promptly.

For more routine items, like short stories, books, or poems, filing proactively is probably not necessary, but can be done.

In conclusion, a copyright can be a useful tool if original works need to be defended by the court. As every situation or work is different, a legal opinion from an experienced intellectual property attorney is highly beneficial. A professional can provide an assessment as to whether a copyright is necessary and this can possibly lead to time, effort and money saved for a client. We have attorneys at Maiorana PC that can assist in this determination and also have years of experience filing copyrights for clients.

Book an appointment with one of our Patent Attorneys for additional information. Please call us at MI - 586-498-0670 or CA - 408-890-6549.

  • Chris Maiorana
  • May 2020
[1] Not to be confused with a Trademark.
[2] We are a short drive to the Elijah J. McCoy Midwest Regional U.S. Patent and Trademark Office in Detroit, Michigan.

If you would like us to analyze your particular situation, call us to set up an appointment to discuss starting an engagement. Please do not send confidential information prior to negotiating an engagement.