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Copyright Terms

Actual Damages

If the registration was filed after an infringement, the Copyright Owner is limited to recovering his actual damages from the infringer and the infringer’s additional profits. That’s why Authors should always register their claims to copyright.

Anonymous Work
A work in which no natural person is identified as Author.

Audiovisual Work
A series of related images intended to be shown by the use of a machine, together with accompanying sound like motion pictures and videos.

The creator of the original expression in a work is its Author. In works for hire, the employer or commissioning party is considered to be the Author.

Collective Work
A periodical, anthology, or encyclopedia, in which a number of contributions, constituting separate and independent works in themselves, are assembled into a unified whole.

A work formed by the collection and assembling of preexisting materials or of data that are selected, coordinated, or arranged in such a way that the resulting work as a whole constitutes an original work of authorship. The term compilation includes collective works.

Material objects, (like books, sheet music, tapes, and floppy disks) other than phonorecords, in which a work is fixed by any method now known or later developed, and from which the work can be perceived, reproduced, or otherwise communicated, either directly or with the aid of a machine or device.

Copyright Owner or Claimant
The owner of any or all of the exclusive rights granted under Section 106 of the Copyright Law. The Author is also the owner of copyright unless there is a written agreement by which the Author assigns the copyright to another person or entity, such as a publisher.

When a work is fixed in a tangible copy or phonorecord for the first time.

Deposit Copy
One copy (if unpublished) or two copies (if published) of the work to be registered for copyright. In certain cases such as works of the visual arts, identifying material such as a photograph may be used instead. The deposit copy is sent with the application and fee and becomes the property of the Library of Congress.

Derivative Work
A work based upon one or more preexisting works, such as a translation, musical arrangement, dramatization, fictionalization, motion picture version, sound recording, art reproduction, abridgment, condensation, or any other form in which a work may be recast, transformed, or adapted.

Digital Audio Transmissions
Since 1995 copyright owners of sound recordings have enjoyed an exclusive right to perform their copyrighted works publicly by means of a digital audio transmission, subject to certain limitations under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998. Digital audio transmissions include satellite broadcasts, streaming audio, and webcasts.

When copies or phonorecords are offered for sale or lease to a group of wholesalers, broadcasters, or motion picture theaters, publication takes place if the purpose is further distribution, public performance, or public display.

The Copyright Owner of a work made for hire.

Fair Use
The use of a copyrighted work for the purposes of criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, or research, is not an infringement of copyright. Fair Use (17 U.S. Code §107) is a defense used when someone is sued for copyright infringement, not free rein to do anything you want.

Fixation occurs when an Author puts the work in a tangible medium of expression sufficiently permanent to permit it to be perceived, reproduced, or otherwise communicated for a period of more than transitory duration. A machine or device (like a CD player, VCR, computer, or even a player piano) may be used to perceive the work.

Copyright infringement occurs when a copyrighted work is reproduced, distributed, performed, publicly displayed, or made into a derivative work illegally or without the permission of the Copyright Owner.

Infringement Penalties
An Author or Copyright Owner who has registered his claim to a copyright can sue an infringer. A federal court may grant an injunction to prevent reproduction and distribution of the infringing items. These items may also be impounded and destroyed. If the date of registration was before the infringement, (or within 3 months of publication) the Copyright Owner has the choice of asking the court to order the defendant to pay statutory damages and attorneys fees or repay the actual damages suffered. Statutory damages run from $750 to $30,000. In certain cases, they may drop to $200 or rise to $150,000. If the registration was filed after an infringement, the Copyright Owner is limited to recovering his actual damages from the infringer and the infringer’s additional profits. That’s why Authors should always register their claims to copyright.

Joint Authors & Joint Owners
All the Authors are equal owners of the copyright in a joint work from the moment of its creation. A Joint Author Agreement should be signed if the ownership is not evenly split.

Joint Works
A work prepared by two or more Joint Authors with the intention that their contributions be merged into inseparable or interdependent parts of a unitary whole. Each portion must be independently copyrightable. That is, each part must be an original, fixed expression of an Author.

Literary Works
Works expressed in words, numbers, or other verbal or numerical symbols or indicia, regardless of the nature of the material objects, in which they are embodied such as books, periodicals, manuscripts, phonorecords, film, tapes, disks, or cards. Audiovisual works are not literary works.

Motion Pictures
Audiovisual works consisting of a series of related images which, when shown in succession, impart an impression of motion, together with accompanying sounds, if any.

Notice of Copyright
An identifier placed on copies of the work to inform the world of copyright ownership that generally consists of the symbol or word “copyright (or copr.),” the year of first publication, and the name of the Copyright Owner, for example: © 2007 John Doe Its use is now optional, but still a good idea. Use of a copyright notice does not necessarily mean that registration of the Author’s claim to the work was made with the Copyright Office.

A material object in which a sound recording is embodied. It may be anything capable of reproducing sound such as vinyl LP’s, compact discs, cassette tapes, microchips, a floppy disk containing an MP3 file, or even an 8 track tape.

Pseudonymous Work
Works where the Author is identified under a fictitious name.

Public Domain
When a work’s copyright has expired, or if it fails to meet the requirements for copyright protection, it may be used freely without requiring the permission of the former Copyright Owner.

Public Performance and Display
To perform or display a work “publicly” means to perform or display it at a place open to the public (excluding a normal circle of family and friends; or transmit a performance or display of the work to the public. Don’t confuse public performance with publication.

Distribution of copies or phonorecords of a work to the public by sale or other transfer of ownership, or by rental, lease, or lending. The sale of phonorecords constitutes publication of the underlying work, for example, the musical, dramatic, or literary work embodied in a phonorecord. By itself, a public performance or display of a work does not constitute publication. Since the material object does not change hands, a television broadcast is not a publication no matter how many people are exposed to the work. Generally, publication occurs on the date on which copies of the work are first made available to a group of wholesalers for sale to the public. Publication is not required for registration.

The act of filing your application of a claim of Copyright Ownership with the Copyright Office. When the registration is complete, you’ll receive a certificate from the Copyright Office with the registration number. The certificate is a copy of your application form on the Copyright Office’s letterhead.

Sound Recordings
Works that result from the fixation of a series of musical, spoken, or other sounds, but not including the sounds accompanying a motion picture or other audiovisual work, regardless of the nature of the material objects, such as disks, tapes, or other phonorecords, in which they are embodied.

Termination of Transfer
For assignments of copyright made after January 1,1978, the Author (or his widow and heirs) may cancel the transfer after thirty-five (35) years. Termination is not available in the case of a work for hire. Detailed procedures for termination of a transfer are explained in §203 of the Copyright Act.

Transfer of Copyright
An assignment, mortgage, exclusive license, or any other sale of a copyright or of any of the exclusive rights comprised in a copyright, but not including a nonexclusive license. The assignment must be in writing and signed by the owner of the rights conveyed or such owner's duly authorized agent. A copyright may also be transferred by operation of law and may be bequeathed by will or pass as personal property under applicable state laws. A copyright may also be transferred by operation of law and may be bequeathed by will or pass as personal property under applicable state laws. Registration of a transfer of copyright ownership in the Copyright Office is not required, but it provides legal and business advantages.

Work For Hire
This is an exception to the general rule that the person who creates the work is its Author, and thus the Copyright Owner. If a work is made by an employee within the scope of their employment, or it was a specially commissioned contribution to a collective work, a part of a motion picture or other audiovisual work, a translation, a supplementary work, a compilation, an instructional text, a test, answer material for a test, or an atlas, it may be a work for hire. The Employer or commissioning party is considered to be the Author and thus the Copyright Owner.