There are generally three requirements for a work to be eligible for copyright protection. One requirement is that the work must be original. In addition, the work must be a work of authorship. Finally, the work must be fixed in a tangible medium.
What is the originality requirement for copyright eligibility?
To be original, the author can not copy the work from another source. In addition, the work must possess a minimal amount of creativity (i.e., a “spark of creativity”).
What is a work of authorship for copyright eligibility?
A work of authorship is a work that falls within one of eight (8) categories of eligible works. These categories include:
- Literary works;
- Musical works;
- Dramatic works;
- Pantomimes and choreographic works;
- Pictorial, graphic, and sculptural works;
- Motion pictures and other audiovisual works;
- Sound recordings; and
- Architectural works.
What is the fixation requirement for copyright eligibility?
An author achieves fixation by meeting the two requirements below. First, the author must “fix” the work in a “tangible medium of expression.” Second, the fixation must be “more than a transitory period of time.”
Some examples of fixation include a novel written on paper, a painting created on canvas, a recording of a play saved on a recording device, or an article written and saved on a computer. In each of these examples, the captured works are all fixed in tangible form for more than a transitory period of time. Thus, each example meets the fixation requirement under copyright law.
In conclusion, for a work to be eligible for copyright protection, it must be original, a work of authorship, and fixed in tangible form. If these requirements are met, your work can be registered with the U.S. Copyright Office.
Unlike restrictions on the federal trademark registration symbol ®, as soon as creative expression is reduced to tangible form copyright exists. Typically, you can mark you book, software, etc… with the copyright symbol, the year of publication, the claimant and “all rights reserved.” For example:
© 2020, Smith & Hopen, All Rights Reserved.
However, if you want to recover: (1) statutory damages; (2) court costs; and (3) attorney fees, you need to register your work with the Copyright Office within three (3) months of publication or before actual infringement. Otherwise, you will likely be arguing for “lost profits” which are difficult and costly to quantify in court.
What works are eligible for copyright protection and usage of the copyright symbol?
There are certain requirements for a work to be eligible for copyright protection and thus usage of the copyright symbol. Specifically, there are three requirements for a work to be eligible for copyright protection. One requirement is that the work must be original. In addition, the work must be a work of authorship. Finally, you must fix the work in tangible medium. In conclusion, for a work to be eligible for copyright protection, it must be original, a work of authorship, and fixed in tangible form.