The Basics of Copyrights - dummies

By Henri J. A. Charmasson, John Buchaca

Part of Patents, Copyrights & Trademarks For Dummies Cheat Sheet

A copyright protects an Original Work of Authorship (OWA) — think short story, computer program, or song lyrics, for example — which must have tangible form, be a result of significant mental activity, have no inherent technical function, and be the author’s original creation. Here’s the skinny on copyrights:

  • As soon as you create an OWA, you automatically have a copyright, which prevents others from copying, publishing, or performing your work.

  • Make sure that you own the OWA. In other words, you didn’t produce it as an employee, or as a work made for hire.

  • You can register your copyright, which makes prosecuting copycats easier.

  • When you register your copyright, mark your work as a copyrighted work to discourage infringers and give yourself legal advantages.