Copyright law in the US is a complex amalgam of statutory law and case law with overlapping concepts with design patents and trademarks that can easily confuse even an experienced attorney. It would seem that technology, and the artistic community that utilizes it, will always move faster than the Courts and Congress, which has made copyright law notoriously behind the curve with respect to the realities of being an author in present day. The relevant statute (17 USC §102) provides the following list of works of authorship that are eligible for copyright protection:
- literary works;
- musical works, including any accompanying words;
- dramatic works, including any accompanying music;
- pantomimes and choreographic works;
- pictorial, graphic, and sculptural works;
- motion pictures and other audiovisual works;
- sound recordings; and
- architectural works.
While the statute does not mention computer software, it was determined that computer software is considered a "literary work" and thus copyrightable. This portion of the statute also does not mention compilations or derivative works, which are also copyrightable (17 USC §103(a)). While it is not necessary to file for a copyright registration in order for you to have the benefits of copyright protection on your work, it is highly recommended as evidence of your date of authorship for an unpublished work and is necessary if you plan to enforce your copyright in Court.
Our firm can provide various copyright services including registering copyrights with the US Copyright Office, providing an analysis of potential copyright infringement, drafting and negotiating copyright licenses, pursuing synchronization licenses, and drafting copyright assignments. We can also help navigate the confusing waters of some matters which seem to traverse areas of copyright, design patent, and trademark simultaneously.