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Overview of Copyrights

tablet pc with mobile phoneCopyright is a form of intellectual property protection provided to the authors of “original works of authorship,” including literary, dramatic, musical, artistic, and certain other intellectual works, both published and unpublished. Any expression, however, once written down in unique form, qualifies for copyright protection. Copyright protection comes into being as soon as an expression is recorded in some manner (in writing, in audio recording, etc.). In some cases, it is suggested to file with the U.S. Copyright Office.

Generally, the law gives the owner of copyright the exclusive right to reproduce the copyrighted work, to prepare derivative works, to distribute copies of the work, or to publicly perform or display the work.

The copyright protects the form of expression, rather than the subject matter of the writing. A description of a machine could be copyrighted, as could photographs taken of the machine once built, but this would only prevent others from copying the exact description or using your photographs without permission; it would not prevent others from writing a description of their own or from making and using the machine.

Marketing materials, like advertisements for farm products, also receive copyright protection of both the text and the photographs or videos used, preventing others from exactly duplicating your unique advertisements.

This is an excerpt from my book that I co-authored with Pat Dillon, an Iowa food and agriculture lawyer and author of this Iowa agriculture law book.  You can purchase a copy of the book “Field Guide:  Legal Guide for New York Farmers and Food Entrepreneurs” on Amazon.com.  A new (more user-friendly) Kindle version of my book has been recently uploaded (only $9.99 or $2.99, if you own the hard copy of the book). 

Disclaimer:
"This blog is for informational purposes only and is not intended to create an attorney-client relationship. It is recommended that you speak to an attorney licensed in your jurisdiction before relying on the information in this blog."

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