A copyright gives exclusive rights to the person who creates original works of authorship, including literary, dramatic, musical, artistic, and certain other intellectual works. The work must be original. It must not be copied from another source and must have a minimal level of creativity. Facts, well-known phrases and lists of names or ingredients, in and of themselves, are not entitled to copyright protection. However, if these items are organized or expressed in an original manner, then a copyright would protect that organization or expression of ideas, but not the underlying facts or lists. In addition, the work must be more than an idea. It must be fixed in a “tangible form of expression.” This means the work must be written or otherwise recorded. This protection is available to both published and unpublished works. Copyrightable works include the following categories:

• literary works
• dramatic works
• musical works and sound recordings
• choreographic works
• architectural plans, drawings and actual buildings
• pictorial, graphic and sculptural works
• motion pictures and other audiovisual works

There are many benefits to registering a copyright, which include:

• establishing a public record of the copyright holder’s ownership;
• allowing copyright holders to sue infringers in federal court;
• establishing sufficient evidence in court concerning the validity of the copyright and the facts stated in the copyright certificate (if made before or within 5 years of publication);
• allowing copyright holder to seek statutory damages and attorney’s fees in federal court (if registration is made within 3 months of publication of the work or at any time prior to an infringement of the work). Without registration, only an award of actual damages and profits will be available, which are notoriously difficult to prove.
• Allowing the copyright owner to record the registration with U.S. Customs to protect against the importation of infringing copies into the U.S.

The team at Erica W. Stump, P.A. has experience in submitting and prosecuting copyright applications with the Library of Congress and will help you navigate through the copyright prosecution process.