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Copyrights Attorney
in Jacksonville, Florida

The definition of copyright is in the word itself: It is the right to copy. It describes the legal rights of the owner of intellectual property. A person who owns the copyright to work, such as song lyrics or an original drawing, is the only person who can copy that work or grant permission to someone else to copy it. In addition to being able to assign their copyright, license it, or use it for funding, copyright holders may also collect royalties when others use their copyrighted work.

Copyright is similar to a patent in that it is provided as a constitutional right. However, it differs from patents in that copyright protection does not protect the utility of something. Copyright law will only protect the creative nature of a work. For instance, movies, songs, plays, sculptures, and characters are all protected by copyright law.

An example of how Disney would use copyrights can be found in the movie "Toy Story." The whole movie "Toy Story" is copyrighted, and the characters in the movie are copyrighted too. It is important to also note that while the creative nature of a work is considered copyrighted when it is placed in a fixed form, the creative work must be registered for the owner of the copyright to enforce it in the court of law.

Copyright law applies to a broad range of intellectual property, including:

  • Writings: Books, articles, reviews, poems, essays, blogs, plays, movies, and broadcasts

  • Website contents: Text, pictures, graphics, and even the page layout

  • Computer programs: Business, personal, and entertainment

  • Motion pictures or audio: Movies, TV programs, and podcasts

  • Music: Lyrics and instrumentals, both recorded and performed

  • Artistic works: Paintings, drawings, sculptures, graphics, maps, charts, and photography

  • Original architectural designs: Designs for municipal, commercial, and residential buildings, bridges, highways, and tunnels.

  • According to the U.S. Copyright Office, copyright does not protect facts, ideas, systems, or operation methods. For something to be copyrightable, it must have some sort of tangible expression.1

How Copyrights Work

Copyright differs from other intellectual property because it is automatically created when a person creates a copyrightable work that is an original literary, dramatic, musical, or artistic work. There is no need to register such an original work for it to be copyrighted. As soon as an individual creates an original piece of art, for example, they have automatic copyright on the resulting work.

It is highly recommended to register your copyright to provide an extra layer of protection. Your copyright certificate can be used in a court of law to provide evidence of ownership, making your legal case stronger.

Copyright duration varies from country to country. In Canada, copyright lasts for the duration of the creator's life plus 50 years from the end of the calendar year of the creator's death. In the United States and the United Kingdom, copyright lasts for the life of the creator plus 70 years.

As a copyright owner, you will have the sole legal rights to your original work.

Determining the length of this intellectual property right is arguably more complicated than any of the other types. The creative entity and how the work was created can affect the term of copyright protection. If a single author or creator made the work on or after 1978 then the copyright will last 70 years past the author’s death. If multiple authors created the work, then the copyright lasts 70 years past the last surviving author’s death. If the work was a work made for hire then the protection will last 95 years from the first publication or 120 years from the date of its creation, whichever is less. If the creator is unknown the same rule applies as the work for hire rule – 95 years from the first publication or 120 years from the date of its creation, whichever is less. However, if the copyright office learns the author's name, then protection only lasts 70 years past the author’s death. The above is a very general description of how long a copyright will last.

There are various avenues for creators to save money when filing an application to obtain a federal registered copyright. If you would like to speak with an attorney about filing a copyright or if you believe someone is infringing on a copyright of yours, one of our attorneys would be glad to speak with you.