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Copyrights

: How to Make Your Business Legal

 

Information about Copyrights that may be applicable to your gift basket business.

 

Copyrights ©

 

A copyright is an exclusive right granted by statute to the author of an original work for a limited period of time to make multiple copies of the author’s work. Works that may be the subject of copyright include literary, musical, choreographic, pictorial, graphic, sculptural, software and audio/visual works.

 

Rights of a Copyright

Section 106 of the Copyright Act generally gives the copyright owner certain exclusive rights. These rights include:

  • Reproduction of the copyrighted work.
  • Preparation of derivative works.
  • Distribution of copies.
  • Public performance of the copyrighted work.
  • Public display of the copyrighted work.

 

Copyrights cover only the “expression” of the author, meaning the work itself. Copyrights do not protect the ideas included therein. Copyright protection arises as soon as the work is created and fixed in a tangible medium. The copyright is owned by the author. The copyright lasts for the lifetime of the author plus 50 years after the author’s death. An author may also transfer his copyright interest to someone else. These works, referred to as “work made for hire”, last for 75 years from publication or 100 years from creation, whichever is shorter.

 

Information about Copyrights that may be applicable to your gift basket business.

Registration of a Copyright
A copyright can be registered with the US Copyright Office in Washington, DC. If you have a ‘work’ to protect, then you should register a copyright – a registration provides many advantages. For example, the owner of a registered copyright may be able to collect his or her attorney’s fees from an infringer. Applying to register a copyright is relatively easy and low cost. The US Copyright Office online website provides very useful and very easy-to-understand information. If you prefer to call their office, they can be reached through (202) 707-3000, or toll-free at 877-476-0778. The Forms and Publications Hotline is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week at phone (202) 707-9100. Use this number to request application forms for registration or informational circulars if you know which forms or circulars you want.

 

Employees
The law generally provides that works created by a true employee in the course of employment and for the benefit of the employer are works made for hire and therefore owned by the employer. However, companies often deal with independent contractors to develop computer programs or do other work for the benefit of the company. It’s important that the company have a written agreement with the independent contractor/author providing that the deliverable product is work made for hire owned by the company.


Notices and Fair Use

Once you have a copyright work, it’s best to place a notice of copyright on the work. The notice should include the word ‘copyright’ or the ‘©’, and the year of publication, followed by the name of the author or other owner of the work. For example: Copyright 1994 Acme, Inc. With software, the notice should be placed on the physical media and in an early screen, if possible.

The copyright owner’s exclusive rights have some limits. The law provides that someone else may make “fair use” of copyright materials without infringing the owner’s interest. Fair use includes limited usage in connection with criticism, news reporting, teaching and research.

Be aware that many publishing companies take a very aggressive approach to enforcing their copyrights. For example, many companies, large and small, purchase periodicals, journals and reports for their employees’ use. It is not usually a ‘fair use’ to make multiple copies of these publications to circulate among employees. Companies engaging in this practice may sometimes be surprised to find they have been sued for copyright infringement because of this practice.


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