Writing Wednesday

Some of you know I’m fairly active on Twitter, and also that I often speak and teach on publishing law and contract issues. Yesterday it occurred to me that these two separate efforts might also work well together. (Blame the Reese’s cups. It was their idea.)

So…I started a hashtag. #PubLaw wasn’t being used for anything else, so now it’s the place where I tweet about publishing law and publishing contracts. I’ll use the space to answer questions, and also to link my Writing Wednesday/publishing law posts. (Feel free to use the comments section for questions also, as usual.)

Today’s topic: copyright.

Copyright attaches “at the moment of creation” (assuming the work in question otherwise qualifies for copyright).

Certain formalities are required for enforcement (read: litigation), but the failure to register a work with the copyright office impacts enforcement and remedies, not the existence or ownership of the copyright itself.

In the United States, copyright lasts for the life of the author +70 years. For joint works, the copyright term is measured by the life of the last surviving author.

Entity authors (such as corporations) have a copyright term of 90 years from first publication of the work or 120 years from the date of creation of the work, whichever comes first.

“Public Domain” refers to works upon which the copyright has expired and works for which no copyright ever existed (for example, many government works). Works in the public domain can be used and quoted freely, though the original author should still be credited with authorship.

Have questions about copyright? Pop into the comments or tweet me using the #PubLaw hashtag and I’ll do my best to answer!