A copyright is an important legal document to obtain when you have a product you want to protect. Copyrights are used for many works including computer programs, style guides, recipes, fabric designs, sculpture, literature and other items.
Bluntly put, pretty much anything you can create can be copyrighted. There are exceptions, though. Here's a little more about when you might be unable to obtain a copyright.
1. You were employed by another party
If you create a new drug, musical masterpiece or other work while employed, check your contract carefully. You may be unable to copyright the work, because you may not be the recognized owner. The owner of the company, in that case, would own the copyright.
2. You previously sold the copyright
If you previously sold a copyright, be aware that you can't just take it back. The buyer now owns it, so if you want it back, you'll have to buy it back.
3. You made a work for hire piece
When you are hired by another person who commissions a piece and you sign a work made for hire agreement, you'll lose the rights to the piece. The commissioning party obtains the copyright to the piece if it qualifies under federal law.
If your product or work falls into one of the above scenarios, you may not own it. If you're not sure, it's a good idea to look into your legal rights to the piece specifically. Our site has more information on protecting your copyright and determining if you have the rights to a work.