Copyrights and Protecting Your Idea.


A copyright protects any literary, artistic, musical or dramatic work developed by its creators as indicated under the Copyright Act. For example, if you own a business that has developed a computer program, the literature in the computer program can be protected by a copyright. Or if you have developed a manual on "How to Stop Smoking", a copyright will protect the manual itself, thus discouraging others from copying the material and selling it to others.

In terms of duration, the copyright remains the property of its creator until their death plus fifty years thereafter.

Many countries have an automatic protection for its citizens that states; in most cases, the moment a citizen creates a work that falls under one of the four categories eligible for copyright, they are the copyright holder and are therefore protected from infringement by non-copyright holders (infringement meaning publishing, copying or performing work without the permission of the copyright holder). This approach is not recommended since it becomes extremely difficult to prove in the courts that your are the rightful owner of the material. Therefore, it is wise to register the material under the Copyright Act. Upon registering your material, you will receive a certificate proving you are indeed the copyright holder and the owner of the work. If a lawsuit did occur, you have proof that you are the rightful owner.

To register for a copyright, contact the appropriate copyright office to obtain the necessary forms (US and Canadian copyright offices are listed below). In addition, you will be required to pay a modest filing fee. You will mail your application forms, your filing fee, and a copy of the material to be copyrighted to the appropriate address listed below. Once your copyright registration becomes effective, you can show the material is protected by including a Copyright Notice on your work. A Copyright Notice consists of three components;

    1.    the symbol ©, or the word copyright, or the abbreviation "Copr"
    2.    the year the material was first published
    3.    the name of the copyright holder



    • Copyright, 1990, Your Company
      Copr, 1994, Your Organization
      © Copyright, 1995, John Doe


For additional information on copyrights, call the Copyright Office at the telephone number below. You will be prompted by a menu driven recording that provides various topics ranging from "what is a copyright" to "how to order the required copyright application forms". This process is simple; requiring little time and effort. Here are the addresses and telephone numbers for the US and Canadian Copyright Offices.

Related web links include:  1) Additional info on Copyrights and  2) Canadian Copyright Database.


US Copyright Office:

Copyright Office
Library of Congress
Washington, D.C. 20559
Telephone: (202) 707 3000


Canadian Copyright Office:

Copyright Office
Canadian Intellectual Property Office
Industry Canada
50 Victoria Street
Place du Portage, Phase 1
Hull Quebec K1A 0C9
Telephone:(819) 997-1936

Categories: General