How Do I Copyright My Work?

Elliott Stapleton 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

Elliott Stapleton

Elliott is a partner in the firm of Cornetet, Meyer, Rush and Stapleton serving clients throughout Ohio. Elliott's business clients range from small single member companies to large privately-held businesses. CMRS Law provides legal services which include advice on Business Formation and Transactions, Real Estate Transactions, Trademark Law, Copyright Law, Estate Planning, Trust Administration, Probate Administration, and Succession Planning. CMRS Law serves clients at two locations: 123 Boggs Lane, 1st Floor, Cincinnati, Ohio 45246 and 2101 Grandin Road, Suite A, Cincinnati, OH 45208