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Are copyrights automatic?

Copyrights aren't always easy to understand, and there is at least one major myth that has to be dispelled immediately involving the ease with which some believe they can obtain a copyright.

The reality is that copyrights aren't necessarily difficult to get, but not everything that you create automatically has one. Here's a little more about copyrights and the myth you shouldn't believe.

Are my ideas protected by copyright?

Ideas are not protected by copyright until they are in a fixed, tangible form. For instance, if you create a new movie and have it on a flash drive, then this should be automatically protected. However, just having the idea for the movie isn't enough to protect it unless you can show that you have it written down in a tangible manner in some way.

Many people choose to register their work to protect it. It's voluntary, but it may be something you want to do if you want to guarantee your recognition as the designer or producer of a product.

I've heard a myth that I just have to mail work to myself for a copyright to apply. Is that true?

Roughly known as a "poor-man's copyright," this is a process in which you mail the idea or item to yourself to obtain a date and stamp. While this does give you an exact time and date of mailing, it's not enough to protect you and isn't a good substitute for registering your work.

Choosing to copyright your work is a personal choice, but it's a good one to prevent plagiarism and violations of your rights.

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Costello Law Corporation
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