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  1. What is a copyright?
    Once you've created a unique piece of work such as written material, music, drama, or artwork, it is important that you secure your work from being stolen, published, or claimed by anyone else. The person owning copyright, (proof of ownership), has all rights to the material that has been copyri ghted. This means that no one else may sell, copy, or reproduce your work wi thout your written permission.
  2. What works can be copyrighted?
    Anything that is a unique creation that can be presented in concrete , touchable form can be copyrighted. These include, but are not limited to, writings like poems, stories, and articles; musical creations; song lyrics; drama or plays; actions without words; arranged dance; building designs; graphic and sculptural works; and sound recordings. You must be able to provide material in manuscript form or supply photos of the work you wish to copyright.
  3. What is not covered by copyright?
    Any idea that has not been produced in touchable form cannot be copyright ed. If you have an idea for a story, but have not yet written any portion of that story, the idea cannot be protected under copyright law. If you have performed a play but have no script or tape of the play, a copyright will not apply. Copyrights cannot protect titles, names, short phrases, slogans, let tering and coloring, or listings of ingredients or contents. Lastly, anything that is common knowledge, such as standard calendars or tape measures, is not qualified for copyright protection.
  4. Who is legally entitled to submit an application form for copyright?
    Any author of a creative work who is working independently may file for copyright. However, if you created work on assignment for a specific publisher or company, and you are being paid for that work, then the right to file and posses copyright belongs to that publisher or company. Another person entitled to file copyright on works you've created is any person to whom your work was sold, given, or traded through legal contract. In addition, any person legally representing the author or creator of original works is also able to secure a copyright.
  5. Can I copyright unpublished works?
    It may be considered unprofessional by publishers, but copywriting unpublished work is the only way to guarantee protection of a piece prior to submission. Works may be registered in unpublished form as a collection with one application form and one fee. An unpublished collection is recorded under the title of the collection. For example, if you have written several poems, but not enough to complete the book you envision, you can copyright those poems as a collection, continuously adding to it and then renewing your copyright registration to include any new pieces. The same principle applies with unfinished novels, songs, plays, etc.
  6. What happens to my copyright if I sell a previously unpublished piece of work?
    Copyrights can be transferred from one person to another, such as author to publisher, if an agreement is made in writing. However, copyright laws may differ from state to state. For more information regarding transfer of copyright in your area, it is advised that you consult an attorney.
  7. Do I need to copyright my work?
    The copyright laws created in 1978 state that a work is automatically copyrighted from the moment of its creation. However, in order to protect the works through proof of authorship, it is highly recommended that the copyright be registered with the Library of Congress, which will generally protect the copyrighted material for up to 70 years after the author's death.
  8. How do I register a copyright?
    To register a copyright for a particular work or collection of works, send a properly completed registration form, a nonrefundable filing fee of $30, (fees subject to change), and two complete copies of the works to:
    Library of Congress, Copyright Office
    101 Independence Avenue S.E.,
    Washington DC 0920559-6000.
    Or, call (202) 707-6000 for more information.
  9. When does copyright registration become effective?
    A copyright registration becomes effective on the date the copyright office receives the application form, filing fee, and copies of works regardless of how long it takes to process the information and mail the certificate of registration.
  10. Where can I learn more about copyright information?

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