Copyrights protect the creative expression of many works: books (both literary and non-fiction), screenplays, art works, architectural designs, musical compositions, computer software, advertisements, commercial labels, choreographies, public performances, compilations and website designs, among others. Copyrights are frequently a significant part of a company's intellectual assets, both protecting its exclusive rights and forging its corporate "identity" along with its trademarks and service marks.
Under the "work for hire" doctrine, the corporation or company is deemed the author of copyrighted works prepared within the scope of employment, provided the company and the employee have agreed in writing. A "work for hire" can also be a specially commissisoned work if certain criteria are met.
The owner of a copyrighted work has certain exclusive rights; namely, to reproduce the work, and to distribute, perform, and display the work publicly. The owner can also prepare derivative works which are based on the original, including translations. These exclusive rights are balanced against the right of other entities to make "fair use" of the copyrighted work; the scope of such permissable use is determined on a case by case basis.
Why register? Registration of a copyright in the Copyright Office of the Library of Congress is not mandatory. A valid copyright exists from the moment of creation in tangible form. However, there are significant advantages to registration, should you have to pursue an infringer. You must have a valid registration to collect statutory damages (which can range as high as $150,000.00 per infringement if willful) and attorney's fees. Without a registration in place at the time the infringement occurs, you are usually limited to collecting actual damages, which can be difficult to prove.
Symbus can assist you in securing copyright registrations, maintaining a registration program (for a changing website, for example) and keeping track of the "work for hire" rights your company owns.