You see them everywhere, but why do people use them and what do they mean?
The © , as many of you may already know, signifies a copyright. You’ll want to use a copyright to protect something you create and “fix in a specific medium”.
Plain English, Please!
OK, let’s say you are suddenly inspired to start humming a great new tune you just made up. Not copyrightable. Suppose you’re at an open-mic night, stand-up and deliver an inspiring spoken word performance that brings the whole audience to their feet. Not copyrightable either. But let’s say your friend takes out her iPhone and records your new catchy tune. Bingo! That recording can be copyrighted because now it’s “fixed” in a specific medium. Suppose before taking the stage you scribbled-out your spoken word piece on a cocktail napkin. Now those words are copyrightable too. And what if you later type-out those scribbles? Still copyrightable because it’s the work itself, that’s protectable, not the medium. Your tune, your words, your design, etc. are the work. And the work can be protected regardless of whether it’s “fixed” to a napkin, a computer hard drive, a canvass, the side of a building, etc.
The creator doesn’t need to have his or her copyright registered with the Library of Congress in order to use that symbol or to prevent others from using his or her work without permission. Using the © symbol in conjunction with the owner’s name and date, simply puts people on notice that the work is protected.
So why bother to actually register the copyright? In a word: MONEY.
By registering your copyright you will be entitled to statutory damages if you prove that someone has violated your copyright. You will also be entitled to attorneys fees, which in many cases makes the difference between whether or not a creator is going to seek to enforce their rights or not if someone does infringe on their work. By registering your copyright you also demonstrate to any potential buyer, licensees, joint-venture partners, etc. that you take your work and yourself seriously. It’s a “nice” way to say without saying it that you expect to get paid for your work, and that there will be consequences if they infringe on your rights.
So, when to slap-on a © to your work? The answer is, whenever you want to let the world know it really is YOUR work.
When to take the next step and actually register your ©? That depends whether you care or how much you care if the world respects the fact that it’s your work.
Email me at [email protected] to find out if you are ready to slap that symbol on your work (We can send you a checklist!) AND you can also get access to other exclusive & awesome information – like more checklists.