Frequently Asked Questions regarding Copyrights

What is a copyright?
A copyright is a form of protection grounded in the U.S. Constitution and granted for original works of authorship fixed in a tangible medium of expression.
Does my work need to be published to be copyrighted?
No, copyright covers both published and unpublished works.
What types of works do copyrights protect?
Copyrights protect originals works of authorship including literary, dramatic, musical and artistic works, such as poetry, novels, movies, songs, computer software and architecture.
What is not protected by copyright?
Copyright does not protect facts, ideas, systems, or methods of operations, but may protect the way that these things are expressed.
When is my work protected?
Your work is protected the moment it is created and fixed in a tangible medium.
Does my work have to be registered with the copyright office to be protected?
No. In general, registration is voluntary. Copyright exists from the moment the work is created. A work must be registered if the author wishes to bring a lawsuit for infringement in the United States.
How long does the registration process take?
The processing time for an application varies but, generally, a certificate of registration is usually received within approximately eight months after submission.
Are copyrights transferable?
Yes. All or part of the rights in a work may be transferred by the owner to another.
How long does a copyright last?
Copyright protection generally lasts for the life of the author plus seventy years. For an anonymous work or a work made for hire, the copyright endures for a term of ninety-five years from the year of its first publication or one hundred and twenty years from the year of its creation, whichever expires first.