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Every artist should understand copyright; the copyright laws and the copyright registration issues that could save them thousands of dollars if someone stole their work in entirety or a portion of their work.  Protecting work immediately after creation can save an artist a ton of headache in the future.

How To Get a Copyright – 3 Easy Steps
The question ‘how to get a copyright’ is a common one.   Fortunately, obtaining copyright for your work is made very simple by copyright laws.

Step 1: ensure your work is subject to copyright protection (if you have a literary, artistic, dramatic or musical work – it is subject to copyright protection).  Click the link for more information on what is protected by copyright laws.

Step 2: ensure your work is original.  ‘Original’ can include compilations of others’ work – however, the actual arrangement of the works must be new.

Step 3: put it in a fixed form such as on paper, bubble gum wrapper (although not recommended), CD,  DVD, USB key, hard drive, etc.).

Essentially, if you have an original work you created – you automatically own the copyright to it.

Copyright Infringement – Imitation is the Greatest form of Flattery
While often unintentional – copyright infringement is an artist’s worst nightmare.  You’ve worked so hard to create your work, whether it is lyrics, a photo, book, poem, painting, image, sculpture, music, or manuscript – and someone has now claimed it, or a portion of it, as their own.  People often create work they believe is original, but really, they have actually seen or heard it somewhere else.

This is why copyright registration is important.

As previously mentioned, you may own the copyright to a work, but unless you can prove it, someone else may get the rights to your work.  If you are serious about your work and plan on promoting to other parties, it is imperative you register your copyright.

Easy Ways to Register a Copyright – Choosing a Registry that is Right for You
Registering a Copyright enables you to promote your work with confidence that you have taken appropriate legal steps to prove the work is yours.   This is done because you are recording evidence with a third party that you are the original author of the work; that the work is the proper subject matter of copyright ; and that the work is original in that it is not copied from another work .

There are a number of copyright registries available (Government, Guilds, Online) and they all protect your work in a similar manner.

When searching for a copyright registry, ensure you understand the terms of the registration.  Some questions to research include:
–    Is there a membership fee?
–    Are there renewal fees to maintain the registration?
–    Is the protection for the life of copyright?
–    When will you receive your time-stamped registration certificate?
–    Can you access your registered work or your registration certificate anytime?
–    Where is the copy of your song kept?  Do you send a hard copy or an electronic file?
–    If it’s an online copyright registry, can you have a free trial?
–    Do the courts recognize the information gathered about the work?

Once you have chosen your registry, you simply have to fill-out their appropriate forms and send it to them either through mail or online.  Ensure they give you a registration certificate, as this is your proof your work is registered.

Disclaimer: The above is meant as a general guide to further your copyright knowledge and does not constitute legal advice.  For questions about your specific work, you should consult a copyright lawyer in your country.

Author Bio
Justine Shoolman is the Co-Founder of Copyright Creators (www.copyrightcreators.com), a service inspired by the shortfalls of ‘poor man’s copyright’.  Copyright Creators protects copyright for life with no membership or renewal fees.  Visit Copyright Creators today and you’ll receive 4 free registrations to protect & create proof of your copyright online.

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