Copyright law is the area of law that protects the right of authors, artists and creators to profit from their work. The purpose of copyright law is to encourage people to make creative works. Lawmakers believe that people are more likely to invest the time and effort to make creative, artistic works if they know they’re going to have the exclusive right to profit from those works.

What’s protected under copyright law
Copyright laws protect the rights of the people who create artistic works to be the ones to profit from those works. Copyright law protects a variety of types of creative works including:

Written papers and poems
Video recordings
Theater and drama
Derivative works of any of these things
Some things are not protected by copyright law. Simple names, pseudonyms, titles, slogans, short advertising sayings and lists of ingredients are not subject to copyright. In addition, copyright and patents are two different things. Copyrights protect creative works. Patents protect discoveries and technologies.

How do you get a copyright?
In the United States, copyright is automatic. The person who produces a creative work is the one who has the right to profit from it. You don’t have to formally register a copyright with the United States Copyright Office in order to have a copyright. However, there are reasons that you might want to go through the process to register your copyright. When you register your copyright, you have prima facie evidence that your copyright exists. In the event of a violation, you can also ask for statutory damages and attorney fees that aren’t available to you if you don’t register your copyright.

To have a copyright, you must reduce your work to a tangible form. It’s not enough to have an idea. It’s also not enough to tell someone about it. To have a copyright, you need to record your work in a way that someone else can view it or hear it.