What Is A Copyright?

You're a business owner, not an attorney. But that doesn't mean you can afford to ignore the subject of intellectual property protection. We'll tell you everything you need to know about copyrights for small businesses.

Your company's intellectual assets have real monetary value.

If you don't think so, try selling your business before you've implemented adequate proprietary protections. The processes, content, and innovations you've invested time and money in creating have zero value to buyers unless they have been properly shielded from use in the public domain.

Along with trademarks and patents, copyrights protect your business's intellectual property from unauthorized use. But while obtaining a copyright is easy, enforcing it can be challenging, even for entrepreneurs with years of intellectual property experience under their belt. If the concept of copyrighting is new to you, it's time to get up to speed before it's too late.

What is a copyright?

A copyright is a legal device that protects your company's original work. It gives your business exclusive rights to the use of your work within a specific legal jurisdiction (e.g. country). Original literary, dramatic, musical, artistic works (published and unpublished) are copyrighted at the moment of creation.

What is copyright registration?

To reinforce their legal standing, many businesses choose to register their copyrights with the federal government. Copyright registration serves as legal proof of ownership and can be critical in defending your work against claims of copyright infringement in legal proceedings. The registration process is relatively straightforward, although it may require a copyright search and the services of an attorney who specializes in copyright law.

How long do copyrights last?

Copyrights do not grant perpetual exclusive rights to written or recorded material. But any copyright you file will be legally enforceable for the duration of your life plus an additional seventy years. When the copyright term expires, the material is then available for use in the public domain.

Are copyrights enforceable overseas?

U.S. copyrights are not always enforceable internationally. Each country is considered to be its own legal jurisdiction for copyrighting purposes. Although international copyright treaties can afford some legal protection, you may need to file for protection under each country's intellectual protection laws and guidelines.

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