Whether you’re a digital artist creating designs for people worldwide or a musician breaking out in the industry, the work you create is essential to you. As such, it can be disheartening to discover people have stolen your work and are claiming it as their own. If you create any form of art, it’s essential to understand whether or not these works are protected by copyright. Keep reading to familiarize yourself with the materials protected under copyright law and discover how copyright infringement lawyers can help you if someone has stolen your work.
What Are Protected Works in Copyright Law?
Generally, for a work to be shielded by copyright law, it must be tangible. This means it must be real and substantial. These include the following:
- Song lyrics
- Musical scores
- Video games
You may wonder about things like websites or online codes, as these are not tangible. You can grab a computer but cannot hold the website or content on the page in your hands. Under copyright law, these have been considered a tangible medium, so software, lectures posted online, and other digital media are covered.
It’s also important to consider that works do not have to be registered with the U.S. Copyright Office for them to have protections. If someone steals a file from your computer and uses it, they are still in violation of copyright, even if you have not registered that work.
What Cannot Be Copyrighted?
Since tangible works can be covered under copyright, it’s necessary to understand what is not protected. Any ideas, systems, concepts, names, titles, or phrases cannot be copyrighted. In some instances, you may be able to apply for a trademark or patent, but you would not receive copyright protection.
How Long Are Works Protected by Copyright?
In general, works are protected for the duration of the copyright owner’s life plus seventy years following their death. If there was more than one owner, it is seventy years following the passing of the last surviving owner.
When a work’s copyright expires, it becomes part of the public domain. As such, anyone can use the work without permission, as no one technically owns it anymore.
Even though your work is protected by copyright without registering it, you may still want to consider this. If someone violates your copyright, you may be unable to pursue legal action if your work is not registered. As such, it’s essential to take the necessary steps to protect your creations.
At CopyCat Legal, PLLC, we understand how frustrating it can be to discover that your work has been stolen. As such, we can help you hold the thieves accountable. Contact us today to learn how we can assist you through these challenging legal matters.