When is my work copyrighted?
By Geno A Bulzomi
Copyright, July 2007

Writing for the Internet can be a fun and rewarding experience.  Your potential audience receives your message immediately and it can be read from one end of the earth to the other.  It takes a lot of work to plan, research and finally write a complete literary work or even an article. That work, the fruit of your time and energy, is immediately available to anyone, anywhere.  A justified fear that many authors have is how it will be used once it is released and how they can protect it from plagiarists.  After all, you did the work and you deserve the credit.  A copyright is a simple way to protect your work from others using it for ill gain.

Copyright protection is administered and enforced by the government and is used to ensure that the original author of a work is protected, meaning the author has certain exclusive rights to his works that are protected.  The author is the only one that grants permission to perform or perform the following activities: reproduce the work; complete derivative works based upon the original; distribute ownership or allow use of the work; and to perform or display the work in public (U.S. Copyright Office, 2006).  It is very important to remember that it is not the words you are copyrighting, it is the form of expression you as an author use. 

Now that you have a work ready for the Internet what needs to be done to copyright it?  Technically, nothing needs to be done.  As soon as you have completed a work and have placed it in a copy, “a material object[s] from which a work can be read or visually perceived,” that work is considered to be copyright protected (U.S. Copyright Office, 2006).  However, having a registered copyright establishes a public record and a registration is required before filing an infringement suit (U.S. Copyright Office, 2006).

The registration process takes a few months and requires a fee (currently $45.00).  If you are concerned about proprietor rights and feel that you need to protect the work then register it.  As the old adage says, “better safe than sorry.”              

The best way to learn more about copyright protections and how to register a work is to visit the U.S. Copyright Office’s website: http://www.copyright.gov/.  While this article provides a brief insight to the establishment of copyright protection your research is always required.  The work you create is yours alone and protecting it correctly is your responsibility.  This article does not provide and should not be considered legal advisement.  

Copyright, July 2007
Material can be used with proper citation