Protect My Work

How do I protect the work?

You don't actually have to do anything. Once the creation is set in a "tangible medium," it's protected. Your classroom doodles are copyrighted, your term paper, your class outline.
However, it is a good idea to put the copyright symbol on your work to signify that you are serious about it.

What is a valid copyright notice?

A copyright notice should contain:

  • The word "copyright" a "c" in a circle (©)
  • The date of publication
  • The name of either the author or the owner of all the copyright rights in the published work

For example, the correct copyright for this presentation would be:
Copyright © 2004 by Washtenaw Community College.

Should a copyright be registered?

  • Registering the copyright with the U.S. Copyright office is not necessary for protection of the work.
  • Registering is necessary before suing for infringement.
  • Registering soon after creation of the work creates a presumption of validity (this means you get the jump on anyone who comes along later and claims to have created the work earlier than you).
  • You can also get specific statutory damages for infringement without having to prove that you have suffered harm
  • Information about registering can be found at

When does the author/inventor NOT own the copyright?

  • "Works made for hire:" If a work is created by an employee in the course of his or her employment, the employer owns the copyright. In certain specified circumstances, an independent contractor's work may also be "made for hire."
  • If the work is created under a written agreement specifically transferring the copyright to the person hiring the author/inventor.
  • If the creator has sold the entire copyright.
  • Note that a creator can sell certain limited rights under the copyright and retain the rest.
  • Faculty should consult Section 208 of the WCCEA Master Agreement for provisions regarding ownership of materials created using College resources.