One of the most important concepts of being a freelance copywriter is understanding copyright laws. There are many misunderstandings regarding the law and how it applies to writing. Of all mediums, the internet poses some of the most complicated issues regarding copyright law due to the free flow of information.
Copyright laws protect the author of any type of content be it audio, video, image, painting or literary work. A few areas copyright does not protect is facts, inventions, ideas, words, names, symbols and proprietary information but it may protect the method in which these categories are expressed. Inventions are protected under patent law, words names and symbols under trademark law and proprietary information under trade secret law.
Acquiring Copyright Protection
Unless assigned rights to another party, the author of any piece of writing owns the copyright to that work. No actions are necessary as copyright protection appears automatically after the completion of the piece so it can be read by man or machine. To acquire the copyright, the work must be original, not an extension of someone else’s work.
Reasons to Register a Copyright
Although registration is not necessary, there are a few reasons to have a piece registered with the U.S. Copyright Office. First, to sue another party for copyright infringement, the work in question must be registered. This registration is only valid for infringements that occur thereafter. Second, in a lawsuit, registered work is eligible for up to $100,000 per piece in damages. Third, at only $20, registration is inexpensive and a simple process. Finally, if the registration of copyrighted work is made within 5 years of completion, it can be used in court as prima facie evidence. Overall, the primary use of registering a copyrighted piece of work is for prosecution of an individual or group of individuals in a court of law.