What Is A Copyright

What is a copyright? It is defined as a type of intellectual property protection for original works of authorship. Copyrights protect original literary or artistic works. A copyright is the exclusive legal right given to an originator (or an assignee) to reproduce, distribute, perform, display, and prepare derivative works based on the work. In addition, this protection gives the owner the right to let others exercise these exclusive rights (license), subject to certain statutory limitations. You can register your copyright yourself, but Carson Patents offers copyright help.

By definition, in contrast with patents and trademarks, a copyright protects an original work as soon as the author “fixes the work in a tangible form of expression.” In other words, when you, or someone working for you, creates and posts, publishes, or prints the work, it is protected by copyright. This automatic protection applies in most countries in accordance with the Berne Convention. Also, artistic and literary works made after March 1, 1989 do not require the “©” symbol because of the Berne Convention.

The Berne Convention protects literary and artistic works applicable in many countries. First adopted in 1886 in Berne, Switzerland, the purpose was to make copyright protection span across multiple countries, called Contracting States. The three basic principles included in the Berne Convention are that works must have the same protection in Contracting States as in where the work was created, protection is automatic once the work is created, and protection does not rely on whether there is protection in the country where the work was created.

The Convention recognizes rights of authorization such as the right to translate, broadcast, perform, recite, make reproductions, and make adaptations and arrangements of the work. Also included in the Berne Convention is the duration of copyright protection. Under the Berne Convention, works are protected for 50 years after the author’s death (some exceptions apply). For more information, visit WIPO.

Uncopyrightable Creative Works

Titles, names, short phrases, slogans, symbols, listings of contents or ingredients, and mere variations of font and coloring are not creative and thus are not copyrightable. However, you may be able to protect these things with a trademark. Furthermore, a copyright does not protect ideas, procedures, methods, systems, processes, concepts, principles, or discoveries. However, you may be able to protect these things with a patent.

A copyright lasts for the life of the author plus 70 years. Registration of a copyright with the U.S. Copyright Office is not mandatory, but it can offer enhanced protection. In fact, you can register your own work at the U.S. Copyright Office. But, if you are looking for help, lawyers are available to help, some even specialize in copyrights.

What is the Copyright Symbol – Using the “©” Symbol

The “©” symbol (a capital letter ‘C’ inside a circle) commonly identifies copyrighted works. Most nations around the world recognize the “©” symbol. However, since the inclusion of Berne Convention, for works made after March 1, 1989 there is no requirement to include the “©” symbol on your copyrighted work.

Protect Your Intellectual Property

How Can You Protect your Intellectual Property?

First, what is intellectual property (IP)? Basically, IP can be defined as a literary/artistic work, invention, symbol, or anything else that results from creativity. Depending on the type of intellectual property, there are three different ways to gain protection.

Copyrights – Copyright Works

Firstly, a copyright, by definition, is the protection of literary or artistic works. For example, some copyrighted works are films, novels, poems, songs, lectures, plays, choreography, drawings, paintings, sculptures, architecture, maps, and many other artistic/literary works. Also, a copyright is commonly identified by the “©” symbol.

Trademarks – Trademark Logos, Business Names, Slogans, Audio Clips

Secondly, a trademark protects brand names and logos used on goods and services. Trademarkable intellectual property are things such as titles, names, short phrases, slogans, symbols, listings of contents or ingredients, variations of font and coloring. For example, our name, Carson Patents®, uses the “®” symbol to recognize the trademark registered name. In addition, if an owner claims an unregistered mark, they may be able to use the “TM” symbol. Read more on our trademark services page.

Patents – Patent New Inventions

Lastly, a patent, put simply, is protection of a new invention. There are three types of patents: utility (function of invention), design (appearance of invention), and plant (botanical). For example, patentable intellectual property, broadly, are ideas, procedures, methods, systems, processes, concepts, principles, or discoveries. Read more on our patent services page.


WIPO PROOF is an online tool used to protect intellectual property across the world. The system creates a “globally recognized digital fingerprint” (tamper-proof evidence) for your artistic works, designs, and inventions to secure your WIPO file. This system is intended to digitally store proof that your creations existed in one place easily and affordably. PROOF is very simple to use. A unique digital fingerprint is created in seconds from your file. WIPO PROOF then time stamps, signs with a private key, and verifies with a public key to create a “token.” A WIPO PROOF token provides secure proof of your creation for 5 years. Premium Certificates (more “formal” proof on paper) are also available.


Evidence: the unique digital fingerprint is generated from your electronic file, date/time stamped, signed with a private key, and verified with a public key to create secured registered proof of almost any electronic file

Confidentiality: the fingerprint is generated in your browser (the file is not uploaded). The token provides unalterable proof of date/time stamped evidence of your file.

Cost Effective: it costs less than $30 to get a token or premium certificate and is free to verify proof with token.

Dispute Resolution: use the token to show immediate proof online through the globally trusted WIPO.

Use WIPO PROOF to securely and easily protect your works across multiple countries. For more information, visit WIPO.

Getting a copyright is something you can do yourself. Read more about how to get a copyright yourself. However, if you want help, Carson Patents is available to help you get your copyright registered. Check out our copyright attorney page.