In my riveting previous installment, we discussed trademarks, their applicability, intent and cost. And we arrived at the conclusion that the painful process didn’t fit the reward, at least in our case. That being said, if there is someone reading this who is smart on the implications of skipping out of trademarking, please speak up. I would hate to miss or not consider something, only to find out the hard way later that it was actually a bargain!
Copyrighting is an equally muddled topic, but at least we have some concrete actions we can take to put into effect. As previously discussed, copyrights are intended to protect original works of authorship, including literature, art, drama and music. Copyrighting gives the author the exclusive right to reproduce, distribute, perform or display said works, or authorize others to do so. The interesting thing about a copyright is that it enforces a right that exists regardless, you don’t need to register a copyright for it to be yours. Confused yet? Don’t say I didn’t warn you!
Essentially, as soon as you create any given work, your rights are automatically secured without any action on your part. All you are doing when you request your copyright is notifying the government that you have created a work and it needs to be protected (think “register” instead of “request”). It is a legal formality that makes the creation of your work a matter of public record. There is no requirement to register your work, and you are protected with or without registration. However, there are a several incentives to registration: first and foremost, you can’t file an infringement lawsuit without registering the copyrights. In addition, registration establishes evidence supporting the validity of the copyright, and makes certain compensation for attorney’s fees available to the owner.
Requesting to copyright a work involves two of our government’s favorite things: paperwork and fees. You can file the request online or via hardcopy (some specific works required hardcopy filing), and the fees range anywhere from $35 to $220 depending on the type of work. The final requirement is a non-returnable “deposit” (ie: copy) of the work that gets filed with the Copyright Office and eventually makes its way to the Library of Congress. Efficient… I know. After all this is submitted, you would hope to receive your certificate of registration in the mail, or a denial letter if you forgot to dot an “i”. If you are denied, you can submit for reconsideration, for an additional fee of course!
Once we figured out that copyright protection existed without us doing anything special, and that registering the official copyright was such a pain in the you-know-what, again we decided against officially registering any of my fine literary work created here on this blog. We did add the copyright notice for “visually perceptible copies” to the bottom of our webpages, in order to notify the public that the content contained therein is protected by copyright laws. Basically, that consists of the copyright verbiage or symbol (©), the first year of publication, and the name of the owner… so ours says “Copyright © 2013, Pastured Providence Farmstead”. On the very off chance you would like more information than I have provided here, please check out The Man’s copyright website for all the gory details.