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Writing for Greeting Cards: Copyright


Copyright basics - As of 1978, your work (if original) is automatically copyrighted at the time of creation. This status extends for the length of your life plus fifty years. Copyright protects “original works of authorship” that are fixed in a tangible form of expression. The fixation need not be directly perceptible so long as it may be communicated with the aid of a machine or device.

As the copyright owner, you have exclusive rights of sale, reproduction, distribution, and public display of your creation. Copyrighted material does not have to have the word "copyright" or the "©" symbol to be protected.

You do not have to register your work with the Copyright Office to show legal ownership, but registering has some advantages (you must register your work before you go to court contesting your ownership rights). With registration, you can sue for damages and recover attorneys fees. Having registered your work, you have a stronger case in court as you have concrete proof of your ownership.

How to copyright - You should include your copyright notice on each of your works you submit. This can be typed or handwritten, and can be in any of the following formats.

  • © 2007 J Doe
  • Copyright 2007 J Doe
  • Copr. 2007 J Doe

Notes:

  • The name and date can be reversed
  • The name of the owner can be a full name, a widely accepted alternative designation, or initials.
  • Year of first publication or completion can be omitted if a graphic or photo accompanies the text and is reproduced on greeting cards, postcards, or stationery.

What is not protected by copyright

Several categories of material are generally not eligible for federal copyright protection. These include among others:

--Works that have not been fixed in a tangible form of expression (for example, choreographic works that have not been notated or recorded, or improvisational speeches or performances that have not been written or recorded).

--Titles, names, short phrases, and slogans; familiar symbols or designs; mere variations of typographic ornamentation, lettering, or coloring; mere listings of ingredients or contents.

--Ideas, procedures, methods, systems, processes, concepts, principles, discoveries, or devices, as distinguished from a description, explanation, or illustration.

--Works consisting entirely of information that is common property and containing no original authorship (for example: standard calendars, height and weight charts, tape measures and rulers, and lists or tables taken from public documents or other common sources).

How to register your copyright:

Put into one envelope or package:

  • a completed application Form TX or Short Form TX
  • a $45 payment to "Register of Copyrights."
  • nonreturnable copy(ies) of the material to be registered.

Send the package to:

Library of Congress
Copyright Office
101 Independence Avenue, S.E.
Washington, D.C. 20559-6000

Your registration becomes effective on the day that the Copyright Office receives your application, payment, and copy(ies) in acceptable form. If your submission is in order, you will receive a certificate of registration in approximately 4 months.

More information at U. S. Copyright Office Registration.

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