U.S. and World Copyright Laws Revisited
Copyrights covers pictures, drawings, statues (essentially all works of “art”), music, writings, sound recordings, films, videos, website contents of an original or unique nature, television and radio programs.
Under various conventions in the world, virtually all the industrialized and modernized nations protect these works for everyone by treaty and an original “work” is copyrighted and protected the moment it is created and fixed into some tangible means (such as on paper, disk, photograph, etc.). No actual formality is required, however for protection against piracy you should post your name, the year of creation and the word “Copyright” or the circle C symbol ( © ) somewhere on all copies were people can see it clearly, and take note: Using either of these:
You are required to obey the copyright laws and regulations of your country of citizenship and the United States is one of the few nations that require that a form, copy of the work and fee (tax) be paid. Under U.S. law this must take place within 90 days of publication or before you can file in a Federal court under the Copyright laws for pirating. That date of your filing becomes the date of public notice that the work was copyrighted officially. You cannot sue for copyright infringement in the U.S. if you are a U.S. citizen without a copyright application number.
A legal copyright endures for at least the lifetime of the author plus either 50, 75 or 95 years depending on the country. The United States and many other nations now embrace the 95 extra year concept.
Anything created before 1923 is now out of copyright and is in the public domain. Anything made after 1923 and until about 1945 remains in copyright for an additional total of 105 year or to 2027. Everything else is a flat 95 years or lifetime of the living author plus 95 years. This is known as the Sonny Bono law and was enacted to keep music by composers like Gershwin, cartoons by artists like Disney and films by M-G-M and Warner Brothers safe and profitable well into this century.
Anything created before 1965 requires an original copyright application and a renewal form to be on file for total protection, otherwise the item is in the public domain unless the owner or agent makes formal application to restore a copyright under clauses in the international treaties. This was done with cartoons by Warner Brothers (Bugs Bunny and others), the film “It’s a Wonderful Life” and foreign works by filmmakers like Ingmar Bergman to restore their rights on a case by case basis (and a large fee is required to do this).
Sound recordings made before 1975 may also have their copyrights restored and protected on a case by case basis with formal filings so that re-issued records of Frank Sinatra made in the 1940’s can now be copyrighted, when before they were in the public domain.
Television and radio shows made prior to 1975 are considered “syndicated” not published and the owners may file for a copyright on video and DVD materials once they offer them for sale. Copies of films and kinescopes duplicated in film format may or may not be considered in copyright and will be dealt with on a case by case basis, but by and large owners of prints of early “Star Trek” episodes on 35mm and 16mm film are not harassed by Paramount unless they attempt to put these on video tape in VHS format and sell them or show them on TV.
Technically, the original Orson Welles 1930’s radio broadcast of “War of the World” can be returned to copyright status until well into the 2030 period of time.
Ideas, titles, names, short phrases and the playing of guitar chords (with no singing) on audio recordings only are not available for copyright protection.
In the United States a collection of sound recordings made by the same group or person, with the same people writing the songs can be copyrighted for both sound recording, music and lyrics for a single collective fee.
There is no such thing as the "copyright police" so it is up to each individual copyright owner to secure their rights with private legal action, although from time to time government agencies do go after pirates on a criminal basis, but this will not provide you with any compensation other than their operation ending and maybe they go to jail or get fined (taxed). To get satisfaction you must employer a lawyer and file for civil damages in a court of law directly.
Copyright fees in the United States are between $30 and $60 depending on the type of application and petition.
2005 Music Special |
Making It In Today Music Scene
Our Music Special Issues Continues With These Other Offerings from 2003:
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