Copyright Basics, Part I: What is Copyright and Who can Claim Copyright?

One of the most confusing parts of publishing for many authors is copyright laws. To address the common copyright questions I am often asked, I will be writing a copyright basics series every week for the month of September. Be sure to check back each week for answers to more of your copyright questions. This week I’ll address what is copyright and who can claim copy copyright:

What Is Copyright?

Copyright is a form of protection provided by the laws of the United States to the authors of “original works of authorship,” including literary, dramatic, musical, artistic, and certain other intellectual works. This protection is available to both published and unpublished works. The laws generally give the owner of copyright the exclusive right to do and to authorize others to do the following:

• reproduce the work in copies or phonorecords

• prepare derivative works based upon the work

• distribute copies or phonorecords of the work to the public by sale or other transfer of ownership, or by rental, lease, or lending

• perform the work publicly

• display the work publicly

Who Can Claim Copyright?

Copyright protection subsists from the time the work is created in fixed form. The copyright immediately becomes the property of the author who created the work. Only the author or those deriving their rights through the author can rightfully claim copyright. The authors of a joint work are co-owners of the copyright in the work, unless there is an agreement to the contrary, and  in the case of works made for hire, the employer and not the employee is considered to be the author.

 To learn more about copyright law, visit copyright.gov. Also, be sure to check back next week for part II of this series: What works are and are not protected?

ABOUT JODEE THAYER: With over 20 years of experience in sales and management, Jodee Thayer works as the Manager of Author Services for Outskirts Press. The Author Services Department is composed of knowledgeable customer service reps and publishing consultants; together, they all focus on educating authors on the self-publishing process in order to help them publish the book of their dreams. Whether you are a professional looking to take your career to the next level with platform-driven non-fiction or a novelist seeking fame, fortune, and/or personal fulfillment, Jodee Thayer can put you on the right path.

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