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A copyright provides the creator of an intellectual production with ownership and exclusive rights to publish print distribute or sell the copyrighted material Intellectual productions that are eligible for copyright privileges include written material written and recorded music paintings sculptures photographs movies videos and video games computer programs and many other mediums of creative expression To qualify for copyright protection a work must be creative exist in physical form and be originally produced by the author A copyright cannot protect ideas facts titles names short phrases or blank forms Generally a copyright is owned by the creator of a work but there are some exceptions If an employee creates a work during the course of employment the employer may own the copyright Likewise if an independent contractor creates the work the copyright may be held by the commissioning organization Additionally if the owner of a copyright sells the rights to a work the purchasing party becomes the copyright owner In the case that two or more authors contribute to a joint work they are considered joint copyright owners and have equal right to register and enforce the copyright For works published after 1977 the copyright is enforceable for the life of the author plus seventy years After this time period the work enters the public domain and anyone has access to it without infringing on the copyright As of March 1 1989 a published work is automatically protected as soon as it is created It is advantageous however to register the work with the US Copyright Office for a number of reasons Registering a work strengthens the rights of the creator in case of a copyright violation by allowing a lawsuit to be brought against the violator Although an unregistered work is protected a lawsuit cannot be brought to enforce it until it has been registered Additionally if a work is registered within three months of its creation or at least prior to any
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