Obtaining Copyright Protection & Sharing Your Work
is often equated with limitations, what cannot be done with others' works.
Equally important, however, copyright is a tool for protecting
your rights to your own works and for defining the rights
you wish to grant others.
Although it makes a public record available, registration isn't necessary
unless a copyright owner wants to be able to initiate a lawsuit. If works are registered
within three months of publication or before an infringement,
the copyright owner is eligible for actual damages, statutory damages, and legal fees.
Click on this symbol to register works with the U.S. Copyright Office: ©
While a copyright notice proves a work is copyrighted, it is insufficient for taking a case to court.
Litigation requires copyright registration. Increasing, however, educators are looking for ways to preserve
some rights typically signed over to publishers so that they can post work to their own web sites and also
share their research and publication with other scholars.
Creative Commons provides several helpful services to facilitate greater access to scholarship:
easy-to-create licenses to protect and share works posted on web pages, including a Founders' Copyright that
helps brings works into the public domain after 14 years
lists of host sites to which licensed music, blogs, images, and video can be posted and on which they can be found
a Science Commons of developing tools to archive and reuse scholarly
works and data on the Internet and publish open access law journals
amendments authors can append to publishing agreements to preserve their rights
Other organizations and institutions actively promote authors' rights:
Indiana University and
SPARC, the Scholarly
Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition. SPARC has an excellent
author rights brochure that clearly and briefly explains the benefits of protecting
authors from signing away legitimate and valuable educational uses of their work.
SPARC and Science Commons have joined forces to create a simple mechanism to help authors retaining certain rights to
their articles. The
Scholar's Copyright Addendum Engine can assist in generating a PDF form to attach to a journal publisher's copyright agreement.
Publishing in open access journals,
starting open access journals, and including fees to publish in them in grant
proposals makes scholarly work available to academic communities worldwide at no
cost to those communities. This is typically possible because open access titles
charge authors to publish articles, but do not charge users to read them. There are more than 2,000 quality controlled
scientific and scholarly journals currently available in the
Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ). To
support this initiative, which puts access to scholarship back in the hands of
those creating it, include fees for publishing in an open access journals in
Creating a Copyright Notice
Since 1 March 1989, when the U.S. adhered to the Berne Convention, it is no longer necessary to include a copyright notice. A work is protected from the moment that it is created.
While not necessary, a copyright notice provides clear information: that a work is protected, when it was published, and who owns the copyright. It also
eliminates the defense of "innocent infringement" if a case is brought to court.
The all too familiar copyright symbol © doesn't have legal force, but even the
U.S. Copyright Office sanctions its use. Any of the following are acceptable:
© 2000 John Doe
Copyright 2000 John Doe
Copr. 2000 John Doe
è 2000 A.B.C. Records, Inc. (for sound recordings)
Unpublished work © 2000 John Doe