What is copyright?
Copyright is a form of intellectual property protection that covers creative works, such as books, music, artwork, computer codes and other forms of expression.
Copyright works by providing the owner with exclusive rights to reproduce, distribute, and display the work, as well as to create derivative works based on the original work. This means that no one else can use the work without the owner's permission, unless the use falls under certain limited exceptions such as fair use.
In order to be eligible for copyright protection, a work must be original and fixed in a tangible medium of expression. This means that the work must be independently created by the author and must be recorded in a physical or digital form, such as a book, a recording, or a digital file.
Copyright is automatic in many countries without the need for registration. This means that as soon as the work is created and fixed in a medium, it is granted copyright protection. This is established by the Berne Convention (1886) for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works, an international agreement that establishes minimum standards for copyright protection. Examples are Hong Kong and the United Kingdom, in which copyright is automatic and that registration is not required.
However, in some countries, registration of copyright is voluntary and may provide additional benefits to the right owner. For example, in the United States, Canada, India and China, registration is not required for copyright protection, but it does provide important benefits such as to serve as evidence of ownership in case of a dispute, or registration may be required in order to license or sell the work.
In general, the decision whether or not to register a copyright will depend on the specific laws of the country in question, as well as the individual circumstances of the copyright owner. In countries where registration is not required, it may still be a good idea to voluntarily register the copyright, if applicable, in order to obtain the additional benefits provided by registration.