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When is my copyrighted work protected?

Contrary to popular belief, your work as an author is protected by copyright laws immediately upon creation of the work. For example, if you were to write an essay, the essay is protected by copyright law from the moment you finish typing. The key though is that the work must be reduced to a tangible form or medium. A copyrighted work may not just exist in someone’s imagination or through oral expression alone.

What many people believe is that filing for a copyright registration with the U.S. Copyright Office is required before an author has copyright protection. That is incorrect. Registration of a copyright is only required to file a lawsuit for copyright infringement to enforce a copyright, but it is not required to have copyright protection for the author’s work in the first place. Likewise, registration of a copyright also provides for certain benefits when an author must file a lawsuit, including recovery of statutory
damages and attorneys’ fees.

The bottom line is that copyright protection exists for an author by operation of law upon creation of the work.

Please Note:Rabin Kammerer Johnson provides these FAQ’s for informational purposes only, and you should not interpret this information as legal
advice. If you want advice as to how the law might apply to the specific facts and circumstances of your case, please contact one of our attorneys.

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