Frequently asked questions


What is a copyright?
What can I copyright?
Why use CopyrightHelper.com?
How is a copyright different from a patent or a trademark?
What does copyright protect?
Does copyright law protect my web site?
Does copyright law protect domain names?
Can I protect my recipe?
What about copyrighting the name of my band?
Can a name, title, slogan or logo be protected by copyright law?
Can I protect my own ideas?
Does copyright only protect published works?
Does a copyright ever expire?
When should I renew my copyright?
What is the best way to use someone else’s work?
Is it possible to find out who owns a copyright?
Can I obtain copies of someone else's work and/or their registration certificate from the Copyright office?
Can I use a portion of someone else’s work without their permission?
To copyright in someone else's work, how much do I have to change?
What can I do if someone infringes upon my copyright?
If I use somebody else's work, can I be sued? What if I use quotes or samples?
Can foreigners register their works in the United States?
Can a copyright be claimed by a minor?

What is a copyright? Top
Copyright allows anyone to protect original work from being copied or reproduced.
 

What can I copyright? Top

Here are a few examples:

Literary works
Advertisements
Commercial
Prints
Labels
Artificial flowers and plants
Bumper stickers, decals, stickers
Enamel works
Models
Cartoons, comic strips
Weaving designs, lace designs, tapestries
Sculpture, such as carvings, ceramics, figurines, Marquette, molds, relief sculptures
Cartographic works, such as maps, globes, relief models
Mosaics
Jewelry designs
Holograms, computer and laser artwork
Greeting cards, postcards, stationery
Needlework and craft kits
Relief and intaglio prints
Patterns for sewing, knitting, crochet, needlework
Photographs, photomontages
Record jacket artwork or photography
Stencils, cut-outs
Posters
Technical drawings, architectural drawings or plans, blueprints, diagrams, mechanical drawings
Original prints, such as engravings, etchings, serigraphs, silk screen prints, woodblock prints
Artwork applied to clothing or to other useful articles
Drawings, paintings, murals
Reproductions, such as lithographs, collotypes
Fabric, floor, and wall covering designs
Dolls, toys
Games, puzzles
Stained glass designs
Collages

Visual Arts
fiction
nonfiction
manuscripts
poetry
speeches
directories
catalogs
tracts
compilations of data or other literary subject matter
computer programs
automated databases
games
advertising copy
bound or loose leaf volumes
reports
theses
dissertations
contributions to collective works
secure tests
pamphlets
brochures
textbooks
online works
reference works
single pages of text

Sound Recordings
musicals
drama
lectures

Performing Arts
Movies
motion pictures
Musical Works
scripts
pantomimes and choreographic works
Dramatic works

 

Why use CopyrightHelper.com? Top
With CopyrightHelper.com you can create your copyright application in minutes. Most people usually consult a lawyer for this service, which can cost you a lot. Why waste all that money when you can do it your self?

 

How is a copyright different from a patent or a trademark? Top

A Copyright provides its holder the right to restrict unauthorized copying and reproduction of intellectual property, such as literary work, movie, music, painting, software, etc...

A Patent is a set of exclusive rights granted by a government to an inventor or applicant for a limited amount of time (normally 20 years from the filing date).

A Trademark is a distinctive name, phrase, symbol, design, picture, or style used by a business to identify and/or distinguish itself and its products to consumers.

 
What does copyright protect? Top
Copyright, a form of intellectual property law, protects original works of authorship including literary, dramatic, musical, and artistic works, such as poetry, novels, movies, songs, computer software, and architecture. Copyright does not protect facts, ideas, systems, or methods of operation, although it may protect the way these things are expressed.
 
Does copyright law protect my web site? Top
Copyright can protect the original authorship appearing on a web site. Copyright covers writings, artwork, photographs, and other forms of authorship. Procedures for registering the contents of a web site may be found in Circular 66, Copyright Registration for Online Works.
 
Does copyright law protect domain names? Top
Copyright law does not protect domain names. The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), a nonprofit organization that has assumed the responsibility for domain name system management, administers the assignation of domain names through accredited registers.
 
Can I protect my recipe? Top
A mere listing of ingredients is not protected under copyright law. However, where a recipe or formula is accompanied by substantial literary expression in the form of an explanation or directions, or when there is a collection of recipes as in a cookbook, there may be a basis for copyright protection. Note that if you have secret ingredients to a recipe that you do not wish to be revealed, you should not submit your recipe for registration, because applications and deposit copies are public records.
 
What about copyrighting the name of my band? Top
No. Names are not protected by copyright law. Some names may be protected under trademark law. Contact the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office, 800-786-9199, for further information.
 
Can a name, title, slogan or logo be protected by copyright law? Top
Copyright does not protect names, titles, slogans, or short phrases. In some cases, these things may be protected as trademarks. Contact the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office, 800-786-9199, for further information. However, copyright protection may be available for logo artwork that contains sufficient authorship. In some circumstances, an artistic logo may also be protected as a trademark.
 
Can I protect my own ideas? Top
Copyright does not protect ideas, concepts, systems, or methods of doing something. You may express your ideas in writing or drawings and claim copyright in your description, but be aware that copyright will not protect the idea itself as revealed in your written or artistic work.
 
Does copyright only protect published works? Top
Publication is not necessary for copyright protection.
 
Does a copyright ever expire? Top
The term of copyright for a particular work depends on several factors, including whether it has been published, and, if so, the date of first publication. As a general rule, for works created after Jan. 1, 1978, copyright protection lasts for the life of the author plus an additional 70 years. For an anonymous work, a pseudonymous work, or a work made for hire, the copyright endures for a term of 95 years from the year of its first publication or a term of 120 years from the year of its creation, whichever expires first. For works first published prior to 1978, the term will vary depending on several factors.
 
When should I renew my copyright? Top
No. Works created on or after Jan. 1, 1978, are not subject to renewal registration. As to works published or registered prior to Jan. 1, 1978, renewal registration is optional after 28 years but does provide certain legal advantages.
 
What is the best way to use someone else’s work? Top
You can ask for it. If you know who the copyright owner is, you may contact the owner directly. If you are not certain about the ownership or have other related questions, you may wish to request that the Copyright Office conduct a search of its records or you may search yourself. See the next question for more details.
 
Is it possible to find out who owns a copyright? Top
We can provide you with the information available in our records. A search of registrations, renewals, and recorded transfers of ownership made before 1978 requires a manual search of our files. Upon request, our staff will search our records at the statutory rate of $75 for each hour. There is no fee if you conduct a search in person at the Copyright Office. Copyright registrations made and documents recorded from 1978 to date are available for searching online.
 
Is it possible to obtain copies of someone else's work and/or their registration certificate from the Copyright office? Top
The Copyright Office will not honor a request for a copy of someone else's protected work without written authorization from the copyright owner or from his or her designated agent, unless the work is involved in litigation. In the latter case, a litigation statement is required. A certificate of registration for any registered work can be obtained for a fee of $30.
 
Can I use a portion of someone else’s work without their permission? Top
Under the fair use doctrine of the U.S. copyright statute, it is permissible to use limited portions of a work including quotes, for purposes such as commentary, criticism, news reporting, and scholarly reports. There are no legal rules permitting the use of a specific number of words, a certain number of musical notes, or percentage of a work. Whether a particular use qualifies as fair use depends on all the circumstances.
 
To copyright in someone else's work, how much do I have to change? Top
Only the owner of copyright in a work has the right to prepare, or to authorize someone else to create, a new version of that work. Accordingly, you cannot claim copyright to another's work, no matter how much you change it, unless you have the owner's consent.
 
What can I do if someone infringes upon my copyright? Top
A party may seek to protect his or her copyrights against unauthorized use by filing a civil lawsuit in federal district court. If you believe that your copyright has been infringed, consult an attorney. In cases of willful infringement for profit, the U.S. Attorney may initiate a criminal investigation.
 
If I use somebody else's work, can I be sued? What if I use quotes or samples? Top
If you use a copyrighted work without authorization, the owner may be entitled to bring an infringement action against you. There are circumstances under the fair use doctrine where a quote or a sample may be used without permission. However, in cases of doubt, the Copyright Office recommends that permission be obtained.
 
Can foreigners register their works in the United States? Top
Any work that is protected by U.S. copyright law can be registered. This includes many works of foreign origin. All works that are unpublished, regardless of the nationality of the author, are protected in the United States. Works that are first published in the United States or in a country with which we have a copyright treaty or that are created by a citizen or domiciliary of a country with which we have a copyright treaty are also protected and may therefore be registered with the U.S. Copyright Office.
 
Can a copyright be claimed by a minor? Top
Minors may claim copyright, and the Copyright Office issues registrations to minors, but state laws may regulate the business dealings involving copyrights owned by minors. For information on relevant state laws, consult an attorney.