Do you know the basics of copyright laws?

What does the “automatic copyright” concept refer to?

The current legislation in the field mandates that any form of intellectual property created by an individual that has been stored on a physical device is automatically protected by copyright. It is important to note that until the intellectual property has been recorded on a form of readable or reproducible storing environment, it cannot fall under the category of intellectual property eligible for automatic copyright. In essence, it is not the concept that is covered by the legislation, but rather the palpable form in which the idea has been put into practice.

Moreover, the similarities between the physical form of the intellectual property and other products in the same category will determine the originality. For better understanding, let’s use the example of Walt Disney’s trade mark character, Mickey Mouse. While an individual may draw and animate his very own talking mouse, the differences between it and the well-known Mickey Mouse will be the grounds for deciding the originality of the newborn cartoon character. In case the new cartoon persona and aspect of the mouse are not strikingly similar to the Disney trademark character, then the creator holds the right to automatic copyright without having to register it at the authorities. However, even though the registration is not mandatory, this action still has some benefits.

What is the copyright notice?

Publishing original works, as mandated by 1909 and 1976, would always need to contain the so called “copyright notice”. To put it simply, within this period the legislation in the field entailed that the notification regarding the fact that the original work is protected by the copyright should include the appropriate symbol and the owner’s name in full, in addition to the date at which the works were first published. The most common symbol used for copyright was ©, but abbreviations like Copr. are accepted as well.

It is fair to note that it is not compulsory to receive the permission of the authorities before adding the notice on the physical form of your original intellectual creation. In addition to that, until the 28th of February, 1989, the rights of the creators to the original intellectual property were not hindered by inexistent or malfunctioning copyright notices.

What happens to creations that entered the public domain?

The conventional legislation acts passed in 1976 and 1992 cannot reinstate owners in the possession of their original creations in case they did not include the copyright protection notice. The same thing goes for the update acts that have been passed back in 1998. However, the good news is that acts like NAFTA and URAA can provide the means for seizing control over original creations that have fallen in the category of public domain, although they refer particularly to foreign works. Therefore, it is advisable to steer clear of actions that could result in the loss of property over the intellectual property, as for example, publishing the creations without including the appropriate notice or renewing the copyright after the designated period.

A word on audio intellectual property If the intellectual property has been released to the public after 1972, then any audio material will need to include the appropriate notification regarding the copyright. A category of publications that exempt from this law are the ones that highlight the fundamental basis of the work with partial reproductions only. In addition to that, if the intellectual property has been released before 1972, copyright protection does not apply. It is also safe to say that the notice of copyright cannot be used for the aforementioned type of intellectual property retroactively.

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