I know we have some lawyers and future lawyers here, so I'm going to throw out a couple questions regarding copyrights and patents just in case anyone could provide some insight.
First let's talk about patents. A couple years ago I had a product idea. It was quite a good idea and I thought I would see what I could do about patenting the idea. I did a little research on the 'net, but I avoided those companies that promise to help folks with invention ideas because I heard about some people having their ideas stolen by some of those places. I was looking into what it would take to secure a patent and I was being told that it was going to cost so much money or involve the services of a lawyer to do the patent search. At the time, I really didn't have much money to spare and by the time I did, my wife came home and told me that my product idea was being sold at Target for $40. Apparently my idea was pretty good, but someone beat me to it. My wife has come up with a couple ideas of her own and we're wondering if there's a better way to search patents without having to spend several hundred dollars or hire a lawyer.
Then there is the area of copyrights. I have composed a lot of music over the years and since I perform some of my original stuff at times, I thought it might be a good idea to copyright some of my compositions. I'm wondering if I can secure the whole lot of them under one copyright or if I'm going to have to get each piece copyrighted separately. I'm trying to save as much money as possible here. Any ideas would be appreciated.