defines “copyright” as “a collection of rights that automatically vest to someone who creates an original work of authorship like a literary work, song, movie or software. These rights include the right to reproduce the work, to prepare derivative works, to distribute copies, and to perform and display the work publicly.” In other words, the right to copy a work.

The past perfect tense of “copyright” is what trips people up. It is “copyrighted,” not “copywritten.” It’s an easy mistake to make, since “write” rhymes with “right,” and many copyrighted works are written.

The words “copywrite” and “copywritten” are seldom if ever used. Copywriters don’t copywrite; they write copy. An impatient account executive might ask them, “Is the copy written yet?” but that’s as
close as it gets.

When referring to a copyrighted work, use the word with “right” in it, and you’ll always be right.


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