What Are the Rights of a Copyright Owner?
Copyright provides the owner of copyright with the exclusive right to:
• Reproduce the work in copies
• Prepare derivative works based upon the work
• Distribute copies
Copyright also provides the owner of copyright the right to authorize others to exercise these exclusive rights, subject to certain statutory limitations.
What Is Not Protected by Copyright?
- Mere variations
Who Can Claim Copyright?
The copyright in a work initially belongs to the author(s) who created that work. When two or more authors create a single work with the intent of merging their contributions into inseparable or interdependent parts of a unitary whole, the authors are considered joint authors and have an indivisible interest in the work as a whole. By contrast, if multiple authors contribute to a collective work, each author’s individual contribution is separate and distinct from the copyright ownership in the collective work as a whole.
Transfer of Copyright Ownership
Any or all of the copyright owner’s exclusive rights, or parts of those rights, can be transferred. The transfer, however, generally must be made in writing and signed by the owner of the rights conveyed or the owner’s authorized agent. Transferring a right on a nonexclusive basis does not require a written agreement.
Protecting Your Work
Copyright exists automatically in an original work of authorship once it is fixed in a tangible medium, but a copyright owner can take steps to enhance the protections of copyright, the most important of which is registering the work. Although registering a work is not mandatory, for U.S. works, registration (or refusal) is necessary to enforce the exclusive rights of copyright through litigation. Applying a copyright notice to a work has not been required since March 1, 1989. A notice may still provide practical and legal benefits. Notice typically consists of the copyright symbol or the word “Copyright,” the name of the copyright owner, and the year of first publication. Placing a copyright notice on a work is not a substitute for registration.
How Can I Use a Copyrighted Work?
When deciding to use a work protected by copyright, the general rule is to seek permission from the copyright owner. Under the copyright law, a copyright owner may authorize activities that fall under the exclusive rights of copyright.