A copyright is a type of intellectual property that protecting all original forms of literary, musical, artistic, and architectural works. These materials include various other forms of creative ventures like computer software and video games. Copyrights protect mediums of artistic expression similar to the manner patents protect innovative designs and methods. Typical examples of this material include novels, poems, biographies, songs, compositions, translations, atlases, and other original works of authorship. An author of an original work can claim exclusive rights from the moment he or she creates the work even if a copyright is not registered. Works that are commissioned, authored as a contribution to a collective endeavor, or are part of a collective work are considered to be “works for hire.” The rights of “works for hire” do not go to the author but to the employer of the work.

Copyright Registration

Among the many reasons to register a work for copyright protection, the two most obvious are to establish public authorship of the work and to protect the work from infringement. Even though a work (for example, an autobiography, or a dramatic play) is not required by law to be copyrighted, registration reduces the possibility of infringement and litigation. Rights registration, however, is essential for claiming legitimacy for paid publication of material or work. Registration also helps when attempting to determine the length of time a work may claim protection from infringement.

The 1976 Copyright Act

The 1976 Copyright Act established the boundaries of a copyright and the ownership of a work of literature, music, drama, pantomime, choreography, visual art, sound recording, and audiovisual work. The Act determined the forms of copyrightable material as well as the duration of exclusive rights and protection. In 1978, this act was amended to include works of architecture and architectural design.

What Is the Fallacy of a Poor Man’s Copyright?

A poor man’s copyright is the act of mailing an original work to one’s self. There is a fallacious understanding that if someone mails an original work, than that work is automatically protects the rights of the sender. The United States Copyright Office does not acknowledge this act as a registration of copyrights.

The following is a short list of material that is not copyrightable:

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