Thursday, November 19, 2009

How Do You Copyright an Educational CD?

Dear Rich: A friend of mine has a CD with educational material (not school-related) but some type of teaching program she has put together and wants to copyright. Do you have any suggestions? Start with the principle that your friend already owns a copyright for her work. It's automatic. She should include a copyright notice on the CD, packaging and on the materials that appear on the user's screen. The notice should be something such as "Copyright 2009 [Your Friend's Name]" and if she is including recordings on the disk, there should also be a "P" in a circle followed by similar information -- "2009 [Your Friend's Name]." 
Should she apply for copyright registration? According to the Dear Rich Staff there are benefits for registration but it is not required for copyright protection and is usually only needed if you're going after someone who ripped you off. We're guessing that since the program is on a CD, it contains various media -- text, music, photos, or some combination. In that case, there's a Nolo book that explains the process for multimedia registrations. If it's only text, this book will explain what to do. The easiest approach is to go straight to the Copyright Office for assistance. Here's a circular for registering multimedia works; here's one for registering text works.