According to U.S. law, any original item that is made in a fixed form is automatically subject to copyright protection. In order to copyright jewelry, a person must first determine whether or not the item he made is original. Then, if the creator wishes to make the copyright public, he may register that piece with the U.S. copyright office.
Jewelry designs and ideas have been around for a long time and while the physical form of an original piece of jewelry may be under copyright protection, the idea and system of making it is not. This can sometimes make it difficult to determine whether or not a necklace, bracelet, or pair of earrings is actually an original design. To check whether or not a newly-designed piece is completely unique, a person can search on the Internet and/or a copyright office database to look at previously copyrighted pieces.
Filing paperwork to copyright jewelry typically involves visiting the copyright office website. At the site, a person may download the necessary forms, which can be printed, filled out, and mailed. Another option for the designer is to fill out the forms online and submit them electronically. Tutorials may be taken on the Internet on how to do this.
Photographs may be taken of the jewelry items, so they can be sent with the forms. These pictures should typically show off the detailed design of the jewelry, and not focus on solely the artistic qualities. Different angles should be captured, so the entire piece is shown.
After the forms are filled out correctly, and the pictures have been taken, a designer can then submit the required forms to copyright jewelry. A filing fee will most likely be required and should be sent along with this paperwork. Many times, the cost of filing electronically is less than that done through traditional mail. The copyright office will consider the request, determine whether the jewelry is an original piece, and send out a certificate of copyright. This process can take up to eight months.
Filing to copyright jewelry is not always necessary, but does come with advantages. Having the paperwork on file allows a designer to easily file a lawsuit against anyone who copies his work. Also, with the copyright on file, the U.S. Customs Service can keep copied pieces from coming in from other countries. Also, the record is public, so the design will remain copyrighted for up to 70 years after the designer dies, unless the copyright is renewed — in which case, it could be protected even longer.