Copyright is Not Forever: Romeo and Juliet are Fair Game, but Harry Potter is Not
Since 1978, U.S. laws have held that, when you register the copyright to your work, the protection lasts for the rest of the author’s lifetime, plus 70 more years. This explains why the works of 19th century authors are in the public domain, and people freely adapt their works. When Seth Grahame-Smith wrote Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, copyright laws did not stop him from adapting the works of Jane Austen, who died in 1817. Likewise, the Alan Parsons’ Project did not have to get permission from Edgar Allan Poe’s estate to record songs based on his stories for their album Tales of Mystery and Imagination in the 1970s, since Poe died in 1849.
What are the Benefits of Copyright?
When you own the copyright to a creative work, you are the only person who has the right to do the following with it:
- Make derivative works, such as sequels and prequels
- Adapt the work into another format
- Reproduce or distribute the work
- Translate the work into another language
- Claim that you created the work
You also have the right to object, in the form of a lawsuit, to other people using the work in ways that damage your reputation.
U.S. law recognizes you as the author of a written work as soon as you write it, but registering a copyright makes your claim public and includes public notice of when you created the work.
A Professionally Prepared Copyright Application Will Help Protect Your Creative Works
If you are involved in a copyright infringement lawsuit, you need a lawyer, but if you are just trying to copyright a new creative work, hiring a lawyer is a waste of money. Contact A People’s Choice to have a California non-attorney legal document assistant prepare legal documents, including copyright applications. Call A People’s Choice today at 800-747-2780.
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