The type of works that have been covered by copyright, and especially the duration of a copyright registration, has varied greatly during the last 200 years. When the first copyright law was passed under the new U.S. Constitution in 1890, Congress limited the term of the first copyright registrations to only 14 years. Over the subsequent years, 14 years was gradually extended, until the most recent revision to 70 years, plus the life of the author, which was passed in 1998. For a brief history of the various copyright laws, click Here

Copyright may be secured in any or all of the following media:

* Books, magazines, newspapers, periodicals and translations of these
* Works of art, paintings, photos, statues, sculpture
* Drama, poems, music and lyrics, phono records, motion pictures.
* Technical works, drawings, plans, software, architectural plans

Unique items include boat hulls.

Copyright cannot be obtained in the following media:

*Simple forms and formats, including telephone directory listings, tape measures, rulers, tables or listings of basic math or other information and other basic listings of factual information.
*math algorithms, formulae, type fonts, stylization of characters.
*Recipes, clothing items (fabric prints are copyrightable, sketches of clothing desings are copyrightable, but the items of clothing themselves are not). Some clothing structures may be patentable.
*Titles of books and pamphlets, but a series of these items may be trademarked.

The current term for an U.S. Copyright is 70 years, plus the life of the author

Public Domain Date (Safe-to-Use Date) is currently 2008 – (56 + 28) = 1924.

This date will increase every year by one year until the Berne Convention was passed in 1989, at which time the date will fluctuate by the life of the author plus 70 years.

Proper Copyright Notice:

©, name of author or company, year of 1st publication (include revision years), All Rights Reserved

For additional basic copyright information, click here

Current Charges for Copyright Applications:

$250 legal fees, plus $45 filing fee

Common Law Copyright: There is no such thing as a “common law copyright”. In general, you cannot sue in the U.S. for copyright infringement unless and until you have received a Federal Copyright Registration. There are no state copyright registrations. URBAN LEGEND WARNING: You cannot put an item in an envelope, mail it to yourself and create a “common law copyright.” There is no such thing. You should always make prompt registration of your creative works of authorship and file them with the U.S. Copyright Office promptly after first publication.

All fees quoted subject to change. No legal opinions or facts contained herein. Contact the author for further information.