A copyright falls under the area of intellectual property and by definition, is the exclusive rights awarded to the owner of a creative and original work. A copyright can only be issued by the appropriate intellectual property office (IPO) in the country where the ownership rights are sought. The process for obtaining a copyright will vary in terms of the process set by the applicable IPO and it is therefore important to obtain professional guidance when seeking copyrights.
In many countries, a copyright need not be registered in order to protect it from unauthorized third party use. Jurisdictions will vary accordingly in the protection given to registered and unregistered copyrights, and the requirements to satisfy in order to achieve registration. Understanding the prerequisites to satisfy in order to succeed in gaining copyright protection can be a minefield and as such, a professional consultancy firm should be enlisted to guide you throughout the entire registration procedure.
To clarify, any form of creative and original work, such as music and literature, can be considered for a copyright, which in turn, is an exclusive set of rights awarded over the work, for a limited period of time. The set of rights come into effect on disclosure of the work and approval from the relevant IPO. The scope of rights given to the owner include, the right to copy or adapt the work, the right to distribute the work and the right to lease the work for use by third parties.
Copyrights are only exclusive to the owner of the intellectual property for a period of time until the work is entered into the public domain, where all ‘fair use’ of the copyright does not need permission. However, where this instance arises, permission must still be granted by the owner for certain uses of the work by a third party.
The rights may also expire after a certain time, which is the case with trademark rights, which expire after 10 years. The owner of a copyright has the right to transfer the ownership or assign rights of the work to others. However all uses of copyright work must be in accordance to copyright law.
To seek copyright protection on an international scale, the property owner must apply to WIPO, officially known as the World Intellectual Property Organization, for registration rights.