US Copyright Protection. The framers of the Constitution of the United States of America gave Congress the power: “To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries”. (US Constitution, Article I, Section 8, Clause 8.) One exercise of this power resulted in US copyright law, which gives certain rights to the author of a work, so long as the work has at least a minimal amount of originality.
Some of the kinds of works (expressions) that may be protected by copyrights include literary works, musical works, dramatic works, choreographic works, pictorial, graphic and sculptural works, audiovisual works, architectural works, and sound recordings. In the United States, any qualifying work created after January 1, 1978 is automatically copyrighted. However, a formal registration of the copyright is necessary in order for a copyright owner to bring a lawsuit for copyright infringement.
The owner of a copyright has the following exclusive rights (and the ability to prevent others from doing these things without permission): to reproduce the work in copies or phonorecords; to prepare derivative works based upon the work; to distribute copies or phonorecords of the work to the public by sale or other transfer of ownership, or by rental, lease, or lending; to perform the work publicly, in the case of literary, musical, dramatic, and choreographic works, pantomimes, and motion pictures and other audiovisual works; to display the work publicly, in the case of literary, musical, dramatic, and choreographic works, pantomimes, and pictorial, graphic, or sculptural works, including the individual images of a motion picture or other audiovisual work; and in the case of sound recordings, to perform the work publicly by means of a digital audio transmission. Certain rights of attribution and integrity are also given to authors of works of visual art.
The US Copyright Office (which is part of the Library of Congress) allows for copyright applications to be filed on-line at www.copyright.gov. The on-line application process is relatively straightforward and inexpensive, and is designed to allow authors to submit copyright applications themselves.
Enforcement. If a copyright is infringed, the attorneys at Sierra IP Law, PC have the experience and expertise to enforce those rights or defend against them, through federal court litigation if necessary, on behalf of their clients.
Licensing. The attorneys at Sierra IP Law, PC also have experience and expertise in transferring or receiving US copyrights from one party to another, in whole or in part, whether by way of sale, license, assignment or otherwise.
Difference from Patent or Trademark. A patent provides protection for an invention (such as a process, machine, manufacture, composition of matter, or improvement thereof; an ornamental design; or an asexually reproducible plant). A trademark is a distinctive word, symbol, name, device, or combination thereof used on certain goods to identify their source; a service mark is such a distinctive item used on certain services. A copyright provides protection for certain works of original authorship (expressions) including literary works, musical works, dramatic works, choreographic works, pictorial, graphic and sculptural works, audiovisual works, and sound recordings.