Legal Question in Technology Law in Pennsylvania


What can be done to copyright an online cause/movement I started?

Asked on 7/19/03, 4:52 pm

1 Answer from Attorneys

Gerry Elman Elman Technology Law, P.C.

Re: Copyright

Gee, there are a lot of ways to answer your question. The flippant one would be: No, nobody can "copyright an online cause/movement." The only things that can be copyrighted are "works of authorship."

Perhaps a more helpful answer would be ... "Copyright is a legal tool for preventing others from copying your work of authorship. Please be more explicit. What about the online cause/movement do you want to prevent other people from copying?"

Another answer would be: "Good news. Since the time the U.S. ratified the Geneva Convention on Copyright (an international treaty), every work of authorship has been automatically protected by copyright. This is true even without the author needing to insert a copyright notice in the work, and without needing to register the copyright with the government. There are additional benefits that stem from registering the copyright, but that's a different point. So whatever written material and graphics you have generated is already protected by the copyright that automatically attaches to every work of authorship by federal law as soon it is created."

Yet another would be: "Are you sure you meant to use the word "copyright"? Copyright is just one of several legal tools within the overall rubric of "intellectual property." Maybe what you're asking is how to protect the NAME or maybe a logo of your cause/movement. If so, then one way to do so might be to use the federal trademark law. That is, the name or logo of the organization could be registered as a trademark for services provided by the organization. Or, perhaps the organization might wish to adopt a "collective membership mark" that could be used by members to indicate their affiliation. Some states, additionally, provide a vehicle for registering logos of, say, fraternal organizations.

For further specifics, consult an attorney who specializes in the field of "intellectual property."

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Answered on 7/19/03, 11:00 pm

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