The Big Copyright Lie

Copyright owners frequently hear—from friends, advisors, and even some attorneys—that they have a copyright the very moment they reduce their original content into a tan-gible fixed format. While this is statutorily true, for all intents and purposes it is not in practice. The Copyright Act of 1976 states, “Copyright protection subsists … in original works of authorship fixed in any tangible me-dium of expression, now known or later de-veloped, from which they can be perceived, reproduced, or otherwise communicated, ei-ther directly or with the aid of a machine or device.” (17 U.S.C. § 102(a).) Unfortunately, relying upon this provision renders copyright owners helpless and often frustrated when they need protection the most. The Fourth Estate Public Benefit Corporation discovered this the hard way.

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