What is a copyright?

Copyright owners receive a set of exclusive rights over their original, creative works.

Generally speaking, copyright owners have the legal right to:

  • Prevent others from copying, distributing, displaying, or performing their works.
  • Control the creation of adaptations and “derivative works” —

Note: These rights are subject to important exceptions and limitations.

Writers can use their own copyrights to prevent others from copying their original writing. Similarly, writers must take care when using others’ original works to avoid infringing those other parties’ copyrights.

How can I protect my copyrights?

Creators of original creative work, or their employers, receive copyright protection automatically when creating new works — writers do not need to apply for copyright protection.

For writers in the United States, however, registering copyrighted works with the United States Copyright Office is necessary before taking certain legal enforcement actions, and can be an important part of a copyright enforcement strategy.

Learn more here on how to avoid copyright infringement.

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