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Copyrighting Your Own Work

It is often assumed that in order to have copyright protection of a creation, one must file paperwork with the U.S. Copyright Office. That is not true. Copyright protection applies as soon as the idea is expressed in a tangible format.

This means that no one has the right to use any work you have created without your permission - whether you officially register it with the US Copyright Office or not. And, when in doubt, you should treat everything someone else has created as copyrighted.

US Copyright Office's "Copyright Basics" can answer most of your questions about who can claim copyright on what and how: http://www.copyright.gov/circs/circ1.html#wccc

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Remember that copyright is an area where there is still much ambiguity. Future legislation and court decisions will continue to shape copyright law. Information provided on this website should not be construed as legal advice.