Re: Copyright your work
The case discussed in this article can be confusing but is really based on a few simple copyright principles:
(1) Copyright in a "compilation" (such as a magazine as a whole) is different from copyright in an individual work (such as one particular article in the magazine). The legal definition of a compilation is "a work formed by the collection and assembling of preexisting materials or of data that are selected, coordinated, or arranged in such a way that the resulting work as a whole constitutes an original work of authorship."
(2) Copyright protection arises as soon as a work is "fixed in a tangible medium of expression," regardless of whether the author files a copyright registration.
(3) However, an author must file a copyright registration before filing a lawsuit to enforce his or her rights. Further, there are advantages to filing a copyright registration early (typically, within three months after the first publication of the work), such as the ability to get "statutory damages" (that is, pre-determined financial damages set out in the law) and attorneys' fees.
The lesson from this case is clear: Do not rely on your publisher to obtain a copyright registration for you.
Douglas M. Isenberg
Attorney @ Law
Editor & Publisher, GigaLaw.com
GigaLaw.com: "Legal Information for
Internet and Technology Professionals"
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