June 21, 2007
By David Darlington
Though Library of Congress receives about 2,400 copyright applications per business day, the process of registering a copyright is still a confusing one for many people. At the library’s web site, however, there is a clever resource to assist teachers in explaining the whys and hows of copyright to their students. This whimsical look at copyright may interest adults as well. The “copyright exposed” section has a brief Flash-animated cartoon identifying the kinds of creations that can be copyrighted, such as music, works of art, or publications. The “files on record” section offers an illustrated timeline of copyright history, ranging from the 15th century to the present, with appropriate links to more in-depth resources (images and documents) in the library’s catalogue. The “reading the fine print” section serves as a sort of copyright FAQ, featuring questions about the appropriate claiming of internet resources, copyright restrictions on items in one’s personal collection (such as photographs), and the copyright of one’s unpublished ideas. Most useful for adults is the “steps to copyright” page, which offers simple instructions on the process of registering a copyright and links to the copyright application form and the appropriate fee table.
The United States Copyright Office’s official page is here. It has more detailed information about obtaining copyright, important notes about the legal regulations and restrictions on copyright, and the ability to search copyright records. Frankly, I prefer the one with the cartoons.