A “copyright” is the exclusive legal right, given to a creator or his or her assignee to print, publish, perform, film, or record literary, artistic (including software, architectural design and the graphic arts), or musical material, to create derivative works, and to authorize others to do the same.

How do you know if your creative works are protected? Do you need to formally register your work with the government in order to have that protection? How do you know if your rights have been infringed upon, and what can you do about it?

Technically as soon as you put pen to paper (or virtual paper if you create using a computer), your work is copyrighted and has the same protections that a registered copyright offers, but it is more difficult to prove accurate dates of creation of your work without an official registration.

Infringement of your copyright means that there are substantial similarities between your work and someone else’s work, so much so, that they would have had to use your work in order to create their own. Copyright doesn’t protect ideas, but rather the expression of the idea and elements of that expression.

If you feel your creative works have been co-opted by someone else and you want to be sure of your rights, we strongly suggest that you contact an attorney that practices Intellectual Property Law. At the Law Offices of Linda S. McAleer we practice Intellectual Property Law and will offer free consultationsto help you determine how best to proceed.