Frequently Asked Questions about Copyrights

There are 7 of our most frequently asked questions about copyrights listed on this page. If none of these answer your questions, please feel free to schedule a free copyright consultation to get you some answers about the best steps for seeking copyright protection for your work. Checkout our top 10 copyright faqs.

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A copyright is a type of intellectual property protection that covers tangible original works of authorship. Original works can include anything from paintings, photographs, illustrations, writing (books/poems), to audio recordings, computer programs, and more. For a work to be able to be copyrighted, it must contain a degree of creativity. Some “works” that are not considered creative would be titles, names, short phrases (slogans), coloring, lettering, ingredient/content lists, and more.

Copyright law provides creators with the exclusive right to authorize others to use their work and protects them from others using their work without authorization. Original works created after 1978 are protected by copyright laws until 70 years after the death of the creator or the last co-creator.

Copyrights Protect Original Works

Because registering for a copyright is a straightforward process, it is not very expensive to do oneself. Registering for a copyright can get expensive when hiring legal assistance to complete the process. The cost to register an original work with the U.S. Copyright Office oneself would amount to between $45 to $65. If you want to accelerate the process of copyright registration, there is a fee from the USPTO that allows you to do so.

Copyright Costs

Copyrights, trademarks, and service marks are all forms of intellectual property that host different variations of protection. A copyright offers legal protection to original works. Original works include, but are not limited to, books, articles, works of art, fabric works, photographs, writing, musical compositions, television and radio broadcasts, and computer software. Trademarks or service marks protect words, slogans (phrases), symbols, or logos that distinguish a product or service. In addition to the difference in what they protect, the registration process is different as well.

Copyrights are registered at the U.S. Copyright Office while trademarks and service marks are registered at the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). Another difference between copyrights and trademarks is how long they last. A copyright generally lasts for the lifetime of the original work author plus another 70 years after their death.

Trademarks require maintenance to prolong the enforcement of legal protection while copyrights do not require a renewal.

Copyright vs Trademark

The copyright registration process is quite simple and quick. Copyright registration is effective the same day the application is filed and received by the U.S. Copyright Office, along with the associated fees. On average, it currently takes only about 3 months to process a copyright registration. That is, if the applicant is well prepared and gets approved on the first try. If denied in the initial application, reconsideration can be requested. This will result in weeks or months being added to the time frame in order to again complete each step of the copyright registration process. Find more information on our 3 steps to copyright.

How Long to Get a Copyright

The transfer of the ownership of a copyright is known as the transfer of title. This title establishes the owner of the copyright. Similar to the title of a car or house, a copyright title can be transferred to a different owner. Copyrighted collections can be included in one single title transfer. To find out whether a copyright has been transferred, you can review the copyright registration certificate granted by the U.S. Copyright Office or you could locate a transfer of copyright title. Authors have the right to terminate the copyright title transfer to reacquire the legal rights to their original work. This is a complex process, however, it is possible.

Is the Ownership of a Copyright Transferrable FAQ

There are currently no federal age restrictions for copyright applicants in the United States as of 2022. Where minors will run into complications is if their original work gets infringed upon. A minor is able to send a DCMA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act) Take Down Notice to an infringer. If the infringement does not cease, a minor will have difficulty in court. To sue for infringement, the plaintiff must be an adult. The minor must have a person of age sue in court on their behalf. Without a guardian, the copyright protection cannot be enforced in court.

Who can File a Copyright Application Question

It is possible to copyright multiple pieces of original works in one copyright application, however, there are are some limitations and regulations. In one collection, or group of unpublished works (GRUW), of a copyright application, there can only be 10 pieces of original work included.

These pieces of original works must share the same characteristics. What this means is they must fall in the same category of original work. For example, you cannot copyright music and photographs together in one application. Songs would be copyrighted together in one collection, and photographs in a different GRUW. Also, the ownership and authorship of the original works must be uniform, having one matching owner. If the GRUW meets all criteria, one may file up to 10 original works in one copyright application. Read more about what is a copyright.

Multiple Items One Copyright Application