How to Get Jewelry Copyrighted

By Victoria McGrath

Jewelry designers create original jewelry designs for one-of-a-kind masterpieces and signature collections. The designers own copyrights to all of their "creative works of authorship." Copyright protection covers jewelry designs as "pictorial, graphic and sculptural works." The designer owns basic copyrights in the jewelry design as soon as it is fixed in a tangible form such as a detailed drawing, the metal cast or finished piece of jewelry. The designer can register his work with the federal government for broader copyright protection. U.S. patent law might cover more technical designs.

Jewelry designers create original jewelry designs for one-of-a-kind masterpieces and signature collections. The designers own copyrights to all of their "creative works of authorship." Copyright protection covers jewelry designs as "pictorial, graphic and sculptural works." The designer owns basic copyrights in the jewelry design as soon as it is fixed in a tangible form such as a detailed drawing, the metal cast or finished piece of jewelry. The designer can register his work with the federal government for broader copyright protection. U.S. patent law might cover more technical designs.

Common Law Copyrights

A jewelry designer automatically secures "common law" copyright protection when he creates a jewelry design and documents it in a tangible form. The tangible form does not need to meet any formal requirements: It can be as simple as a rough sketch on a piece of scratch paper, but must be more than an idea or concept. Common law is the system of law that originated in England, as unwritten law. Under common law, it is traditionally accepted that a creative author owns copyrights in his own creations. Therefore, a jewelry designer owns the copyrights in his original jewelry designs. However, if the jewelry designer works for a jewelry company, the designs created within the scope of his employment belong to the employer, so the company would hold the copyrights in the designs.

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Original, Creative Designs

Not all jewelry designs qualify for protection under copyright law. The designs must be original. A design requires only a slight amount of creative inspiration to qualify as original. A simple strand of pearls, a pair of diamond-studded earrings or a traditional gold wedding band will not qualify for copyright protection if they lack the requisite originality in design. The jewelry design must be original and not generic in form. As an example, the Hope Diamond set in its unique design might qualify for copyright protection opposed to an iconic diamond wedding ring. The Hope Diamond is considered one-of-a-kind because of its size and cut. However, it also contains a slight amount of creativity in Its design, with smaller cut diamonds around its edge.The design might qualify for a copyright, but not the actual piece of jewelry itself.

Visual Arts Application Forms

A jewelry design may qualify for copyright protection under the pictorial, graphic and sculptural work sub-category. Jewelry fits into this type of work because the design may generally be represented as pictures, graphic designs or a three-dimensional sculpture. The U.S. Copyright Office accepts federal copyright registration applications for jewelry designs under the broader category of visual arts. Online registration through the electronic Copyright Office requires the online application to be completed. Alternatively, paper applications for visual arts work require form VA or short form VA to be completed and mailed to the Copyright Office.

Visual Arts Registration Requirements

The copyright registration application for the jewelry design must meet specific requirements for visual arts work. In addition to a completed application and filing fees, the registration process requires the copyright owner to make a deposit of the visual arts work. For jewelry designs, the deposit can be a two-dimensional representation of the three-dimensional jewelry instead of the physical jewelry. As an exception, a jewelry item cast in common metal may be submitted, if less than 4 inches in all dimensions.

Deposit Specifications

For jewelry, the deposit can be photographs that capture every copyrightable element of the jewelry, including the metal, stone and setting. The photos must be larger, color images on archival-quality paper. The dimensions of the identifying images should be between 3 by 3 inches and 8 by 10. No images larger than 9 by 12 will be accepted.

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How to Copyright a Jingle

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How to Copyright Crafts

The U.S. Copyright Office oversees copyright registration of "original works of authorship" that meet federal registration requirements. The creation must be in a tangible form of expression, sufficient to communicate the copyright work by a device or machine. For example, songwriters copyright their songs in the form of sheet music and as audio recordings. A craftsman may choose to publish his crafts in a technical manual or how to book. The instructions on how to create the crafts could then be protected under the copyright registration of the publication.

What Are the Categories for Copyrightable Work?

A copyright is the ownership interest in certain original artistic works. The creator of an artistic work protects his ownership by submitting it to the United States Copyright Office, which registers the copyright. Work eligible for copyright registration under the United States Copyright Act must be original, fixed in tangible form and presentable either directly or with electronic aid. The act protects the ownership interest in eight categories of artistic work.

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A sculptor automatically secures "common law" copyrights in a sculpture as soon as it is created and fixed in a tangible form. Any sculpture fixed in any tangible form qualifies for copyright protection. A rough sketch of a sculpture on a napkin, a preliminary blueprint, a detailed mold or a photographic image of a sculpture fulfills the minimal qualifications for automatic copyright protection. Optional federal copyright registration of a sculpture, such as a visual work of art, provides additional benefits. Federal copyright registration creates a legal presumption of ownership rights, access to the federal courts for infringement claims and general public notification throughout the nation.

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