22 August 2023 • 3 min read
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Copyright is essential to your intellectual property strategy as an entrepreneur, business owner, or independent creator. But before I get into the cost of getting a copyright, let’s explore what it is exactly.
Copyright is a form of intellectual property that protects original works of authorship in any tangible form. It also allows the vast majority of creators and artists to monetize their work by granting them the exclusive right to authorize specific uses.
This means you’ll be protected if someone uses your original work without due permission or compensation.
And it’s why your copyright office fees should be factored into your business plan as a creator, artist, or author.
An intriguing but little-known fact is that a copyright is secured automatically when a work is created as long it contains a sufficient degree of originality.
But registering your copyright claim with the US Copyright Office gives you an additional layer of legal copyright protection. For original works (in the US), registration with the US Copyright Office is necessary if you ever need to file a copyright infringement lawsuit.
There are two ways to register your copyright:
Honestly, there’s no straightforward answer to this, as everyone’s copyright needs differ. The copyright office regularly updates its fees on its website. Identifying exactly what category you need to apply under will help you create a realistic budget for copyright fees.
The copyright filing pricing will vary depending on your requirements and preferences.
For example, decide if you’re registering online or by mail. The current fees are:
But your copyright cost can increase if your case is more complicated than usual or has problems. Let’s look at a couple of different scenarios:
Maybe you’ve created a work in collaboration with others: like a song by a band. In such a case, you’ll register as a group, and it’ll only cost $65-85. But if someone contests your claim based on an existing or prior copyright, the case becomes more complex and expensive.
Or maybe your work is inspired or derived from someone else’s. Or you’re applying to restore a copyright that lapsed. In such situations, you should seek counsel from a copyright or IP attorney, as these cases are more complicated. The legal complexity will drive up your copyright cost accordingly.
And what if you’re on the other side? What if someone infringes on your work?
You’ll have to file an infringement lawsuit, engage a law firm or an attorney and bear the legal fees. Again, your costs will be much higher than a straightforward copyright.
The good news is you can claim damages for these expenses if you have a registered copyright.
The short answer is yes. A copyright is an integral part of your IP arsenal, along with trademarks and patents. The copyright registration process is usually less time-consuming than a trademark application with the US Patent and Trademark Office.
And in the long run, it puts your right over your work on the public record. This also means that your copyright will appear in copyright searches for anyone doing their due legal research. This could save you from many potential accidental infringements.
Especially for small businesses, copyrights can go a long way in protecting their original works, including creative works and unpublished works.
Copyright is a subcategory of intellectual property law. It provides a layer of legal protection to original works across music, literature and books, drama, and other artistic works, such as novels, poetry, movies, architecture, songs, and computer software. However, copyright doesn’t safeguard facts, ideas, systems, or methods of operation.
The original content on a website may be protected by copyright. This includes artwork, text, photos, and any other type of originally-created content.
Copyright doesn’t protect names, titles, slogans, or phrases. Some of these can be protected as trademarks by registering with the US Patent & Trademark Office. However, some protection might be available for artwork for logos with enough authorship.
Publication isn’t a requirement for copyright protection. Commonly, any offer to distribute copies or reproductions to multiple people, especially to enable further distribution, public performance, or display, can be considered publication. A public performance or display of a work doesn’t of itself constitute publication.
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Amrusha is a versatile professional with over 12 years of experience in journalism, broadcast news production, and media consulting. Her impressive career includes collaborating extensively with prominent global enterprises. She garnered recognition for her exceptional work in producing acclaimed shows for Bloomberg, a renowned business news network. Notably, these shows have been incorporated into the esteemed curriculum of Harvard Business School. Amrusha's expertise also encompassed a 4-year tenure as a consultant at Omidyar Network, a leading global impact investing firm. In addition, she played a pivotal role in the launch and content strategy management of the startup Live History India.
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