New York is home to Broadway musicals, the scene of many movies in production, artistic works in one of the city’s many museums, literary works and feats of architecture. What do all these things have in common? It is that they are all likely protected by copyright.
What is a copyright?
Copyrights protect original works of art and authorship fixed in a tangible form. Copyright protections date back to the U.S. Constitution. Copyrights do not protect facts, ideas or methods of operation, although the tangible way these things are expressed could be copyrighted.
How do copyrights differ from trademarks?
Trademarks protect words, phrases, symbols or designs that are meant to differentiate one entity’s type of goods or services from those of another. Trademarks prevent competitors from using the trademarked assets of those who hold the trademarks.
Copyrights, on the other hand, are meant to protect specific and original works. Copyrights prevent others from claiming the copyrighted work is their own or using the copyrighted work without the copyright holder’s permission.
Should I register my copyright?
Technically, it is not necessary to register your copyright unless you want to sue for infringement. Registration is recommended though, even if you are not planning on filing a lawsuit at the moment. You can make sure you have the facts of your copyright on the public record if you register your copyright. Most importantly, if you register your copyright within five years of its publication, this serves as prima facie evidence that the work is yours should you choose to sue.
Copyright can be a great way to protect your artistic works. You deserve ownership over the works you create, and this includes both protection from forgery and the right to decide how and when these works are used. If you have further questions about copyrights or other intellectual property matters, you will want to bring your concerns up to a legal professional.