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Copyright is the right to stop others from copying or performing or using or selling your creative work. To protect your copyright you have the option of registering it. It’s not essential, but it gives you statutory advantages, and you can’t sue for infringement of your copyright without registering it.

Suggested Readings

Founders School || Intellectual Property || Copyright || Impact Guide (PDF).

American Bar Association, What is a Copyright? Third Edition (eBook), 2011.

Regarding the risks of using open-source code, see Third Party Code: Beware the Trojan Source by Katherine C. Spelman and Barbara A. Frederiksen-Cross, Landslide, a publication of the American Bar Association Section of Intellectual Property Law, September/October 2010.

American Bar Association, What is a Copyright? Third Edition (eBook), 2011.

Regarding the risks of using open-source code, see Third Party Code: Beware the Trojan Source by Katherine C. Spelman and Barbara A. Frederiksen-Cross, Landslide, a publication of the American Bar Association Section of Intellectual Property Law, September/October 2010.

The US Copyright Office provides information on How Long Does Copyright Protection Last?

The United States Copyright Office has materials, links and information regarding copyrights and the process of registering copyrights.

Easy as ABC: Categorizing Open Source Licenses is available from the Intellectual Property Owner’s Association.

A PowerPoint presentation from the US Patent and Trademark Office provides discussion about protecting and enforcing copyrights and other intellectual property rights. The notes associated with the copyright slides are useful.

The fair use defense to alleged copyright infringement is determined by a balanced application of the four factors stated in the copyright statute: (1) the purpose of the use; (2) the nature of the work used; (3) the amount and substantiality of the work used; and (4) the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the work used.

Questions for You

Does your IP Strategy involve reliance on copyrights? If so, what procedures do you need to implement and institutionalize to ensure that your copyrights are properly documented and used?

What management procedures do you need to implement to determine the possible impact on your copyrights of any planned dealings with others, such as product sales or responding to a potential customer’s request for quote?

What management procedures do you need to implement to ensure that legally sufficient written agreements are put in place with any consultants, independent contractors, etc. to ensure that the company is, in the eyes of the copyright statute, the “author” and owner of the copyright in any work product they will produce?

What procedures do you need to have in place to manage the possible use of open source software by your team or by independent contractors or consultants who supply code to your company?

Questions for Your Team

How do you contribute to the copyright assets of your company?

Do you understand my record keeping requirements relating to creating software or other work product?

Do you understand the risks of using open source software and the company’s policies about open source software?

Tools and Exercises

Copyrights can be registered on-line with the Electronic Copyright Office (eCO). You will need to register and then log in with a password. Before using the eCO service, they recommend you first read eCO Acceptable File Types, eCO Tips (PDF), eCO FAQs, or eCO Tutorial (PowerPoint)eCO Tutorial (PDF). You can also complete and file paper forms.

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