Copyright guard your original work of expression, like websites, software, an article, cookbook, song, or a painting from being used by others illegally. You get restricted rights to display, reproduce your work, sell and sue anyone that violate those rights.
Normally, copyright for work made after January 1, 1978, last for 70 years after the death of the creator. 17U.S.C & 302 (a). The copyrights last the shorter of 95 years from publication, or 120 years from creation, for works done through employing someone. For works published anonymously or buy using a pseudonym are protected for 95 years after publication or 120 years subsequent to creation, whichever comes first. 17 U.S.C & 302(c). Under the present law, you don’t have to display or publish work in order to obtain a copyright.
Notwithstanding your restricted rights, others may use your work sometimes without consent, as long as it represents ‘fair use’. This is generally restricted to educational, criticism, commentary, and newsworthy purposes. For instance, someone may freely take a quote something from your article to demonstrate a point. In the category of fair use deciding on where to draw the line was a big part of the recent PIPA and SOPA debate. Websites like Wikipedia depend on the free use of others’ content, and PIPA and SOPA would put some restrictions on what copyrighted my materials like websites could legitimately include as part of the “fair uses.”
If you want to take a copyright infringement to federal court, you must register your copyright. It is good to register within three months of the publication date or before the supposed violation happened. Copyrights are registered at U.S. Copyright Office at the library. You can recover up to $150,000 in a lawsuit without even proving any real money damages if you register. The records at the Copyright Office are public, meaning anyone can access them.
If you file for copyright registration online, you will get a certificate within a few months. Paper filing takes as long as a year. These time frames are assuming that you did everything correctly when you file. If you need help with copyright filing, seek assistance from qualified counsel.
International Copyright Protection
There is no standardized international copyright law that will protect your copyright automatically throughout the world. However, your copyrights would be protected in most countries in the world because the U.S has conventions and treaties with most of them, though not all of the countries in the world honor each other’s copyrights. For a completely new list of those countries, visit the Copyright Office Circular section 38a, International Copyright Relations of the United States.