Once you've written your great American novel, you may be understandably excited to publish it.
The Copyright Act allows the owners of copyright-protected material to pursue financial damages in the event that another party pilfers and profits from their intellectual property. The damages that the copyright holder can pursue in these cases is the actual amount of damages caused by the infringement in addition to the profits earned by the violator of the copyright.
Let's imagine for a moment that you write the next "Great American Novel," and -- since no publisher has recognized the greatness of your work -- you decide to post your entire novel on the Internet. A year later, you're pleased to find that you have a number of fans who are enjoying your work. However, you're not pleased to find that certain individuals have made a copy of your manuscript, and they're now selling hard copies of your work without your permission.
If you own a copyright, one thing you may wish to do at some point is transfer it to another entity. Copyrights are personal property, and you have the right to transfer it to others if you wish. Your exclusive rights bind the idea or product to you, but you can transfer the copyright through a contract.
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.
Copyrights are designed to help people protect their intellectual property. They protect original works such as music or literature. They're designed to stay with you for life and beyond, helping you protect the work you put so much effort into.
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.
As an artist, you know it's going to be hard to protect your work. It doesn't take more than a few minutes for someone to grab a screenshot of your art, enhance it and sell it on their own T-shirts or products.
The history of copyright is an interesting thing. It started as long ago as the 1700s, with the first copyright law enacted in America in 1790. Before splitting off from Britain, a similar law, the Statute of Anne, was used. The United States based its first copyright law on this statute, determining that it would protect maps, charts and books for 14 years after their registrations and another 14 after that. It was a limited law that worked at the time.
Music is not free -- even when it is used only for background music in an office or a restaurant. Many people are not aware that they are infringing upon California copyright laws any time they play a musician's or author's music in a public place. That is why so many restaurant and bar owners are surprised when they receive a letter or call informing them that they owe fees for copyright infringement.