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What is Copyrighting? How to get Copyright?

Updated on February 24, 2011

Purpose of Copyrighting

Many people work very hard on various things that they feel provides them with satisfaction and fun. After spending hours and hours of effort in their work they finally come up with a product that can also help them financially. If you have created a product then you own it and no one can steal it. For making sure that your work is safe, you need a better understanding of the copyrighting legislations which can protect your work.

A 'copyright' is a form of intellectual property protection that grants to the owner of a work of authorship the legal right to determine how the work is used and to obtain the economic benefits from the work.

Copyright Symbol
Copyright Symbol

 The work should be in some tangible form such as a book, operating manual, magazine article, musical score, computer software games, architectural designs and many more. If something is not in a tangible form, such as speech that has never been recorded or saved on a computer disk, copyright law does not protects it. A work does not have to be of artistic form to qualify for copyright protection. As a result things such as operating manuals, advertising brochures, and training videos qualify for protection. The 1976 Copyright Act governs copyright law in the United States. Under this law, an original work is protected automatically from the time if it is created and put into a tangible form whether published or not.

What is protected by Copyright?

The primary categories of material that can be copyrighted follows:

Literary Works: Anything written down is a literary work, including books, poetry, reference works, speeches, advertising copy, employee manuals, games and computer programs. Characters found in literary works are protect able if they possess a high degree of distinctiveness. A character that looks and acts like Garfield the cartoon cat would infringe on the copyright that protects Garfield.

Musical compositions: A musical composition, including any accompanying words that are in a fixed form (e.g. a musical score, a cassette tape, a CD, or an MP3 file) are protectable. The owner of the copyright is usually the composer and possibly a lyricist. There are also Derivative works, which are works that are new renditions of something that is already copyrighted, are also copyrightable. As a result of this provision, a musician who performs a unique rendition of a song written and copyrighted by Aerosmith or by Metallica can obtain a copyright on his or her effort. Of course Aerosmith or Metallica would have to consent to the infringement on its copyright of the original song before the new version could be used commercially.

Dramatic Works: A dramatic work is a theatrical performance, such as a play, comedy routine, newscast, movie, or television show. An dramatic work can be protected under a single copyright.

Pantomimes and Choreographic works: A pantomime is a performance that uses gestures and facial expressions rather than words to communicate a situation. Choreography is the arrangement of dance movements. Copyright laws in these areas protect ballets, dance movements and mime works.

Pictorial, graphic and sculptural works: This is a broad category that includes photographs, prints, art reproduction, cartoons, maps, globes, jewellery, fabrics, technical drawings, diagrams, posters, toys, sculptures, and charts.

Exclusion from Copyright protection:

The main exclusion is that copyright laws cannot protect ideas. For example an entrepreneur may have the idea to open a soccer themed restaurant. The idea itself is not eligible for copyright protection. However, if the person writes down his/her entire idea and its concept on paper than the written document is copyrightable.

How to get Copyright ?

Technically it is not necessary to provide a copyright symbol or register work with U.S or the country you belong to. The following steps can be taken to enhance the protection offered by the copyright legislations:

  • First, copyright protection can be enhanced for anything written by just attaching the copyright symbol or ‘copyright bug’ as it is sometimes called. The letter ‘c’ inside a circle can be used to designate that something is copyrighted.
  • Second, further protection can be obtained by registering a work with your country’s Copyright office. Filling a simple form and depositing one or more samples of the work with Copyright office completes the registration process. The need to supply a sample depends on the nature of the item involved.
  • Thirdly a copyright attorney can be hired for consultation and he/she will make sure that you are getting maximum level of copyright protection.
  • Publish your work and make it available for the public to view it.

Copyright, What's Copyright?


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    • Valeed profile image

      Valeed 6 years ago from Pakistan

      Erum thanks for your commment :)

    • erumkhan profile image

      erumkhan 7 years ago from Pakistan

      Great information, thanks for sharing!!

    • Scott_Grigg profile image

      Scott_Grigg 7 years ago from Midwest USA-Southeast

      Anyone know HOW to put that copyright c in the copy?

    • Valeed profile image

      Valeed 7 years ago from Pakistan

      @ Medor. thanks for stopping by and reading :)

    • medor profile image

      medor 7 years ago from Michigan, USA

      Thanks... nice, clear and concise... you rock valeed...

    • Valeed profile image

      Valeed 7 years ago from Pakistan

      @ GmaGoldie. Ask your friend to place a copyright notice © at the back of his/her work, followed by his/her name and the year the work was created or first published.

      For example, on the back of a painting it is good practice to include © John Citizen 2010.

      By the way thanks for your appreciation :)

    • GmaGoldie profile image

      Kelly Kline Burnett 7 years ago from Madison, Wisconsin


      Great article - very valuable and very well written.

      For visual arts - must the artist sign the picture? I am asking for a friend of a friend. Where can I find more info?

    • Sienna Red profile image

      Sienna Red 7 years ago from Philippines

      This is definitely a good information!

    • Valeed profile image

      Valeed 7 years ago from Pakistan

      Thanks for stopping by and reading :)

    • Amy Becherer profile image

      Amy Becherer 7 years ago from St. Louis, MO

      This was a question I posed about 2-weeks ago to a fellow writer. I was advised of the circled "c". I truly appreciate your very informative, well written piece that outlines the fact that if your work is made available for the public to see, it is protected under the Copyright laws. This is a great service to all writers. Thank you