Let's kick it off:
What is copyright?
-Protection provided by Title 17, U.S. Code, to authors of "original works of authorship". Includes literary, dramatic, musical, artistic, and certain other intellectual works.
-Protection is available to both published AND unpublished works (for what 'published' means, see below under Publication).
-What you create must be tangible, i.e. a 'style' cannot be copyrighted, or a certain 'look'.
-"The fixation need not be directly perceptible so long as it may be communicated with the aid of a machine or device"
-Easily enough to see, sound recording and musical works are protected
What rights do you get with copyright?
-Per Section 106 of the 1976 Copyright Act, as creator of a work you are granted EXCLUSIVE right to do and authorize others to do the following:
-Reproduce the work in copies
-Prepare derivative works off of the original concept
-Distribute copies of work to public by sale, other transfer of ownership, rental, lease, or lending
-Perform work publicly (this includes playing a sound recording of material you created)
-Display work publicly
Who Can Claim/When?
-Subsists from time the work is created in 'fixed form'. Immediate ownership of copyright begins to the author of work, or those deriving their rights through the author
-If a work takes a while to complete, it is the date which the work will be considered 'done'
-Note about 'for hire' - In case of a work made 'for hire' (like a photographer for a newspaper, or studio musician for an album), the employer is the copyright owner for any work created. A DJ performing at a venue and being paid does NOT fall under this category. To see more about what exactly constitutes 'for hire', see http://www.copyright.gov/circs/circ01.pdf
What does NOT give you copyright:
-Ownership of the physical medium (ie CD, vinyl, etc), whether a copy or original, does not legally grant you any rights accorded by copyright.
Not protected by copyright:
-Ideas, procedures, methods, systems, processes, concepts, principles, discoveries, or devices, as distinguished from a description, explanation, or illustration
-1976 Copyright Act says 'publication' is:
-The distribution of copies or phonorecords (medium containing work) of a work to the public by sale or other transfer of ownership, or by rental, lease, or lending. The offering to distribute copies or phonorecords to a group of persons for purposes of further distribution, public performance, or public display constitutes publication. A public performance or display of a work does not of itself constitute publication-Basically what I think this means is that if you 'distribute' a work, or offer to, to people for further distribution in any manner, that is a publication, which grants you copyright. If it is just a display of your work not intended for any form of distribution past you displaying your work, that would not be considered 'published'.
-Either way as far as DJ's are concerned, publication by an author or a song doesn't matter; a DJ still needs to pay for the record or somehow get some form of right to the record from who(m?)ever holds the rights.
Why does publication matter for authors of works?
-Can affect limitation of exclusive rights of owner
-Affects years of protection (duration)
If a work does not contain a 'notice of copyright' (seal or whatever), is it still protected?
-Yes. Still can be copyrighted even if does not have the copyright symbol on it, although it is recommended to display notice of copyright
-Originally required in 1976 Act, but amended by Berne Convention in 1989.
How Long Does Copyright Last?
-For stuff created (fixed in tangible form) on or after January 1st, 1978: automatically protected from moment of creation and is ordinarily given for duration of author's life PLUS 70 years.
-The whole '50 years' thing is a myth-Before this date, it's complicated. It was originally that works had 28 years of protection, but laws 105-298 and the 1976 Act, among others, enabled people to extend to 47 years, 67 years, and 95 years. So it depends on whether the people renewed their copyrights or not
-Under current laws, termination of a grant of rights is allowable after 35 years if proper notice is served in a specific time, usually included in contract. Contracts don't have to last this long though.
Registering a Copyright and Why:
-Even though you don't have to officially register through the Copyright office to hold one, it will help in case of legal issues as it provides certain advantages
-Establishes, to the public, claim of copyright
-Before you can sue someone for infringement, you must have registration filed, which may prove more difficult and much more time lengthy if you wait until a suit
-If you register within three months after publication, statutory damages and attorney fees will be available to holder of copyright. Otherwise, you can only get actual damages and profits.
-Registering within five years gets you prima facie, which I'm not to clear on, but basically it's proof of the facts of your copyright, backed up by the government
-$35 to file, more info on the site if you're interested in filing