How Do I Copyright My Work?

Jennifer Wickman Copyright

The essence of copyright law is to encourage individuals to express their creativity and share that creative expression with the public without fear that the work will be taken and reproduced by others.

There are two fundamental elements to a copyright: (1) an original expression that is (2) fixed in a tangible medium.

An original expression means that the author or creator conceived the expressive work on his or her own and did not merely steal the idea from someone else. In other words, the work must be authentic.

Second, the expressive work must be fixed in a tangible medium. This simply means that the expression must be documented. Fixing work in a tangible medium may occur in a variety of ways, such as:

  • Writing down song lyrics, a poem, or story
  • Capturing or developing a photograph
  • Recording a melody
  • Drawing a picture or architectural design
  • Creating a sculpture

These are all viable methods to satisfy the requirement that the work must be fixed in a tangible form.

Once you have fixed your original work of authorship in a tangible medium of expression, you will have secured common law copyrights to your work.

Copyright protection at common law ensures that the original author is the sole individual with the right to reproduce the work, prepare derivative works, distribute copies, and perform or display the work publicly or in a digital transmission. Copyright protection also allows the author to claim authorship, prevent intentional distortion or modification of the work, and prevent destruction of the work.

Expressive works may also be registered with the United States Copyright Office to obtain a federal copyright registration. Our firm is able to help with this registration process.

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About the Author

Jennifer Wickman

Jennifer is an associate attorney with Cornetet, Meyer, Rush and Stapleton. Her primary practice areas include intellectual property, specifically trademark and copyright law, business transactions, and estate planning. Jennifer is dedicated to helping her clients with various legal situations by implementing creative problem-solving strategies.