Did you know that © copyrights are exclusive rights owned by the author at the moment of creation?
Yes, the moment you write a letter, draw a picture, compose a symphony, sculpt in clay, snap a photo, script a play, or scribble a doodle a copyright begins. All versions and drafts of your creative expression are protected at the moment of creation.
There are two requirements: 1) the work must possess an element of creativity. Alphabetically arranged lists of names are not creative therefore not protected by copyright, the lists lack creativity. 2) the creative work must be fixed in a tangible medium. A typical conversation is not copyright protected because the spoken words are “transitory”. The words have not been written or recorded – not fixed in a tangible medium, so, no copyright. But once a creative expression is fixed in a medium, a copyright exists.
The words you are reading here are copyright protected (even as I write and edit). The words I have written here are fixed in the tangible medium we know as a web page.
The author of an original creative work is the initial owner of exclusive copyrights inherent to the creative work.
Copyright law grants – me – the author of the words written on this page, five exclusive rights:
the exclusive right:
– to reproduce these words;
– to distribute these words;
– to create new versions of these words;
– to publicly display these words;
– to publicly perform these words.
The “exclusive” nature of each copyright, affords a commercial advantage to the owner of an exclusive right; whether the work be written, painted, recorded, sculpted, and as inthe exmaple here: written into a web page.
Authors can transfer any one or all of the exclusive copyrights by written contract; or instead, the author may keep all exclusive rights and choose to grant non-exclusive licenses to persons or businesses. Hiring a company to print quantities of some greeting cards you created is a common licensing occurrence.
Once an author transfers any one of the exclusive copyrights, in writing, to another party, the author no longer is the owner of that exclusive right in that partucular creative work. After sigining a written transfer of a single or all exclusive right(s), the author, must then seek a license from the new owner of the exclusive copyright(s). A recording artist may sign a contract that transfers the exclusive right to distribute copies of a song. In that instance, the recording artist may no longer have the right to sell his own recording, the new owner of the exclusive distrubution copyright controls the distribution of that song.
Copyright law does not protect single words, short phrases, or titles; trademark laws offer some protection. Copyrights do not protect any ideas communicated by a creative work; “patent law” protect ideas.
Copyrights protect expressions.
For example, an art class of twelve students is given the assignment: “draw the scene outside the classroom window”. As one might expect, the finished drawings are different: some colorful, some somber; some accurate and some abstract. Twelve artists draw twelve different “expressions” of the same idea.Each student is an author of their own creative expression.
Fixed, creative expressions are copyrightable. Authors are initially vested with exclusive copyrights to their creative expressions.