Mailing yourself a copy of your creative work DOES NOT protect your copyright. Reply

Please be advised that there is no provision in the copyright law or the practices of the  Copyright Office regarding any type of protection known as the “poor man’s copyright.” The mere act of placing a copy in the mail addressed to oneself does not secure statutory copyright protection for the work, nor will it serve as a substitute for registration of a claim to copyright in this Office in terms of legal and evidentiary value.

Quote above is from the U.S. Copyright Office’s website at https://www.copyright.gov/help/faq/faq-infringement.htmlmailing-myth

It only costs $35-$55 to protect your creative work by registering it with the U.S. Copyright Office.

BY: Vanessa Kaster, Esq., LL.M.

For personalized legal services you are welcome to contact me at vk@kasterlegal.com

See also: other blog posts on related topics –  “Copyright Protection Only Costs $35; “It is a MYTH that Copyright Registration is Expensive“; “How to Write a Copyright Notice and Why To Use It“; and the U.S. Copyright Office website at www.copyright.gov; @iplegalfreebies and www.kasterlegal.com.

It is a MYTH that Copyright Registration is Expensive Reply

News of Target copying a t-shirt design from SandiLake Clothing (a small business started by a creative and entrepreneurial young woman) …broke my heart because the designer, Ms. Lay, evidently stated that she did not have her design copyrighted due to the “high cost” of copyright.

IT’S A MYTH that copyright registration is expensive!  Applying for Copyright Registration is not expensive folks.  Applying for for Copyright Registration costs $35-$55Instagram design CR.

My heartbreak is somewhat abated by the fact that Target has pulled the copy-cat shirts off their shelves.  Evidently, Ms. Lay launched a clever social media flurry by posting a photograph of herself in a Target Store wearing her original shirt and holding a copy-cat shirt being sold at Target and appealing for support of mom-run businesses.  (The photo is inserted to the right).

BY: Vanessa Kaster, Esq., LL.M.

For personalized legal services you are welcome to contact me at vk@kasterlegal.com

See also: other blog posts on related topics –  “Copyright Protection Only Costs $35″ or As of 5/1/14 “Some Basic Copyright Claims now cost $55; “How to Write a Copyright Notice And Why To Use It“; “How to use the ®, TM, SM, © symbols for trademark and copyright“; “Copyright Is Valuable, ‘The Birthday Song’ Earns $2 Million a Year In Royalties“; #smallbiz #valueyou #valueyourart; @ iplegalfreebies and www.kasterlegal.com.

US Copyright Fees increase tomorrow (5/1/14) 2

The US Copyright Office fees are set to increase tomorrow on May 1, 2014.  This increase includes some changes to the $35 fee for a basic copyright registration.  Currently, filing an online copyright registration for “an original work of authorship” via the US Copyright Office’s electronic filing system costs $35.  As of May 1, 2014 this basic copyright registration will be divided into two new categories. Some basic copyright registrations will still cost $35 and some will cost $55.  As of tomorrow, the $35 registration fee will be limited to apply only to works which have: a “single author, same claimant, [consist of] one work, not [a work] for hire.”

(Bargain hunters may want to take advantage of the lower fees today!)

new fees

image from US Copyright Office Website

BY: Vanessa Kaster, Esq., LL.M.

For personalized legal services you are welcome to contact me at vk@kasterlegal.com

For more information see, the US Copyright Office website at www.copyright.govearlier blog posts on the topic of “copyright” at www.iplegalfreebies.wordpress.com/category/c-o-p-y-r-i-g-h-t/ ; @iplegalfreebies and www.kasterlegal.com.

 

Benefits of US Copyright Registration Reply

Copyright vests automatically in an original work once it is ‘fixed’ in a tangible dollar (2)form.  While copyright vests automatically, it can also be advantageous to register an original work for copyright registration with the US Copyright Office.  Registering a work with the US Copyright Office is not a requirement but it can be beneficial for the following reasons:

  • Registration with the US Copyright Office establishes a public record of the basic facts including ownership of an original work.
  • Before an lawsuit may be filed against someone infringing your work, registration is necessary with the US Copyright Office for works of US origin.
  • If registration is made within 3 months after publication of the work or prior to an infringement of the work, statutory damages and attorney’s fees will be available to the copyright owner in court actions.  Otherwise, only an award of actual damages and profits is available to the copyright owner.
  • If registration is made within 5 years of publication of the work, registration will establish prima facie evidence in court of the validity of the copyright and of the facts stated in the certificate.
  • Registration with the US Copyright Office allows the owner of the copyright to record the registration with the US Customs Service for protection against importation of infringing copies.

It is possible to file for US Copyright Registration at anytime within the life of the copyrighted work.  Currently, it only costs $35 to file an application with the US Copyright Office for registration.

The term of copyright protection for a work created on or after January 1, 1978 is for the life of the author plus 70 years (or if a work is made for hire the term of copyright protection is 95 years from the date of publication or 120 years from the date of creation, whichever expires first.)

Wishing all of you reading this post a Happy New Year!   Starting off the new year with a reminder that all your original creative content that is written down, drawn, painted, recorded, sculpted or otherwise fixed… is automatically vested with copyright feels auspicious.  As detailed above, taking the extra step to register your work with the US Copyright Office can be beneficial.

BY: Vanessa Kaster, Esq., LL.M.

For personalized legal services you are welcome to contact me at vk@kasterlegal.com

For more information see, Circular 1, Copyright Basics; Circular 15A, Duration of Copyright. and all the information circulars and fact sheets available at the US Copyright Office website: http://www.copyright.gov/circs/; and also an earlier post “Copyright Protection Only Costs $35“; @iplegalfreebies and www.kasterlegal.com.

An Artist’s LOVE – can extend to COPYRIGHT 1

LOVE

picture from Wikipedia

Have you read that the American Pop Artist Robert Indiana (famous for his “LOVE” with a tilted O) will be featured in a new exhibition at the Whitney Museum in NYC? Have you also read that he missed out on controlling all the rights to his famous “LOVE” work because he didn’t copyright it properly?

In a recent NY Times article, Mr Indiana spoke about being brokenhearted over not properly copyrighting his work:

…because ‘LOVE’ – with its tilted O – wasn’t properly copyrighted, it spread to all sorts of places and products [I] didn’t want. And that broke [my] heart. ‘Rip-offs have done a great harm to my own reputation.’

This is an important reminder to artists and creative folks to copyright your work! For a work to be eligible for copyright registration it must be original and “fixed in a tangible form.” This can include any original work, fixed in virtually any tangible form. For example, original copyrightable works can include: sculptures, drawings, photographs, artwork, music, poetry, graffiti, jewelry designs, motion pictures, video clips, translations, texts, manuscripts, recordings…. etc. And the requirement that the work be “fixed in a tangible form” can include traditional mediums such as paper, canvas, clay, DVDs, CDs… and less traditional mediums such as a napkin… scrap of paper… and probably even peanut butter.

Please take Mr. Indiana’s words to heart and copyright your work. For more information on how to copyright your work see my earlier post titled: “Copyright Protection Only Costs $35.

BY: Vanessa Kaster, Esq., LL.M.

For personalized legal services you are welcome to contact me at vk@kasterlegal.com.

See, The US Copyright Office Website at: www.copyright.gov; for more information on the upcoming exhibit of Robert Indiana’s work in NYC www.whitney.org/Exhibitions/RobertIndiana, @iplegalfreebies and www.kasterlegal.com.

As a post script, I mentioned peanut butter above as a possible medium for fixing an original copyrightable work, because, there is a contemporary Double Mona Lisa work made out of PB&J – www.artnet.com/usernet/awc/awc_workdetail.

Summary for Photographers of IP Legal Freebies: Reply

And a few lagniappe topics:

This post is a valentine for my mom… who will be lecturing on this topic for other authors and photographers over the weekend.

BY: Vanessa Kaster, Esq., LL.M.

For personalized legal services you are welcome to contact me at vk@kasterlegal.com

 

US Copyright Office set to RAISE FEES in early 2013 Reply

The US Copyright Office is planning to raise the cost for filing a claim to register works for copyright registration early next year. So, you have plenty of time (a good 9 months) to make the most of the current $35 copyright registration fee.

A $10 fee increase has been proposed for single authors filing an online registration for a single work of their own. And a slightly higher fee increase of $30 has been proposed for works made for hire (ie companies and entities that own and register works of others including employees)

US Copyright Office Registration (*proposed new fees in 2013)

  • 1 author, 1 work (same claimant not a work made for hire, eCO filing).. now-$35/New fee* $45
  • All other claims eCO filing (including work for hire) .. now-$35/New fee* $64
  • Forms PA, SR, TX, VA, SE (paper filing) .. now-$65/New fee* $100

The US Copyright Office explains that these proposed fee increases are necessary to cover a higher percentage of registration costs, while still being in line with its mission to keep the copyright registration accessible and affordable. To be honest, I think it makes sense. I appreciate the cost being lower for artists, writers, musicians and creators registering their own work.

Click here for the entire chart of the US Copyright Office’s Schedule of Proposed Fees. From now through 5:00pm EST on May 14, 2012 the US Copyright Office is accepting comments on the proposed fee schedules at http://www.copyright.gov/docs/newfees/comments/

Take advantage of the $35 registration fee while you can! (you’ve got the rest of 2012!)

See also: The official notice issued by the Library of Congress regarding the proposed fee increase: http://www.copyright.gov/fedreg/2012/77fr18742.pdf. The Registrations highlighted in this posting are just 2 of the 40+ Registration, Recordation and Other Service fees being adjusted by the US Copyright Office’s proposed fee changes; www.kasterlegal.com.

BY: Vanessa Kaster, Esq., LL.M.

For more personalized legal services contact me at vk@kasterlegal.com

What I would tell Jaki Byard (about copyright law) 1

The late, great Jaki Byard was a musical genius and like ALL artists Jaki created TONS of intellectual property. Undoubtedly he created more original, copyrightable works than he even knew. Like so many artists… when your art just flows… and your groove is strong… it’s easy to overlook ways to protect and monetize your work. (I studied jazz piano with Jaki a few years before I went to law school and became an intellectual property attorney).

What advice would I give Jaki today? I would insist that Jaki copyright his work. Jaki created exquisite handwritten piano exercises and warm-ups …complete with elaborate pencil-drawing covers. They were remarkable in all respects. And if Jaki were still alive today, I would take the F train out to his home in Queens and insist that he copyright and publish these. (Yes, Jaki also had volumes of recordings and other music… I suspect a large portion of these works are copyrighted and still paying royalties).

Is sheet music of warm-up exercises copyrightable? Yes! If they are original, they are copyrightable.

Will people buy them… is another question… however, it only costs $35 to register your work with the US Copyright Office. This is a nominal investment. I would have paid it on Jaki’s behalf in a heartbeat.

(Jaki Byard was a jazz legend and a brilliant teacher. He passed away February 11, 1999 and lives on in his music).

BY: Vanessa Kaster, Esq., LL.M.

For personalized legal services you are welcome to contact me at vk@kasterlegal.com

 

For more info on how to register your work with the US Copyright Office —> http://t.co/ynaHCbX and http://www.copyright.gov and a tribute to Jaki —> http://www.villagevoice.com/1999-03-09/music/jaki-byard-1922-1999/; @iplegalfreebies and www.kasterlegal.com.

Copyright is valuable – ‘The Birthday Song’ earns $2 Million a year in royalties 1

Would you have guessed that the song, ‘Happy Birthday to You’ generates an estimated $2 million dollars a year in royalties?  (and has earned this much annually since 1996)  It’s only eight measures long, spans an octave and was written for children …but it’s a big FullSizeRender (3)money maker.

The song has appeared in over 140 movies, in countless advertisements for products ranging from cars to cereals to insurance to paper products and pet stores… and was featured in the world’s first singing telegram in 1933.   Royalties are earned for public performances of the song as well as its use in movies, television shows, advertisements, music boxes, theatrical productions and the like.  (Just an fyi… singing it around the dinner table or serenading your friend is a royalty-free private performance.)

‘Happy Birthday to You’ was written by two sisters… one was an educator and the other a composer.  They were knowledgeable about copyright law and took steps to register their work for copyright protection.  They may not have guessed that their song would become one of the most popular songs in the 20th Century…. earning over an estimated $45 million dollars to date.  (Spending $35 to register your music for copyright protection pays off –> http://t.co/ynaHCbX )

(Since this blog just celebrated its first birthday… this is a timely topic.)

BY: Vanessa Kaster, Esq. LL.M.

For personalized services you are welcome to contact me at vk@kasterlegal.com

An interesting reference for more on the copyright issues surrounding the Happy Birthday song, see Professor Brauneis’ legal paper http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1111624

ORIGINALITY is Key To Copyright Reply

Originality is key to securing copyright protection over a work.  This is true for literary works, sculptures, paintings, music and all varieties of creative output.  While this may seem obvious, in truth it’s a gray area.  Here are a few examples:

  • TELEPHONE DIRECTORY, WHITE PAGES:  not original; therefore, no copyright protection.
  • PHOTOGRAPH OF AN ARMFUL OF PUPPIES: is original; therefore, making a sculpture that is a deliberate copy of the photograph is a copyright violation.
  • A PAINTING: is original; however, making an engraving of the painting is not a copyright violation because of the engravers artistic use of light, shade, lines and dots.

MARDI GRAS INDIAN COSTUMES: possibly original works of sculpture.  At present the Mardi Gras Indians are seeking copyright projection for their elaborate costumes as works of sculpture.

What does this mean?  For the Mardi Gras Indians it will mean that photo releases, licenses and fees will need to be paid to the Indian sculptors before others copy, reproduce and sell their images as photographs, fine art, in calendars or on t-shirts.

BY: Vanessa Kaster, Esq., LL.M.

For personalized legal services you are welcome to contact me at vk@kasterlegal.com

for info on copyright registration –> http://t.co/ynaHCbX; @iplegalfreebies and www.kasterlegal.com.