Intellectual property is critical in today's competitive market, and yet advancements in this digital age make it easier than ever to violate intellectual property rights. That's especially true for anything you write or produce as on "Original Work". Whether as an individual or an entity – your written creations risk copyright infringement if not protected. Violators can easily find material online and often try to use it or pass it off as their own work/creations in order to profit from it. It is important to protect your original work, and the most important and effective means of protection is COPYRIGHT Registration.
We want you to have a good understanding of various Copyright rights and protections so that you can make informed decisions for yourself or your business. Therefore, below we share some of the most common questions we receive on this issue.
**BUT, if you're ready for tailored analysis and legal guidance, contact us TODAY at 850-366-2376 and schedule a FREE Online Consultation with one of our experienced Copyright & Intellectual Property Attorneys!! They will explore and discuss your trademark rights with you and advise you on all the steps you need to take to protect your work and your business!
I. Overview of Copyright Law
A copyright gives an author of an original work exclusive rights to their work, including the right to control and protect it. Copyrights cover a wide variety of different subject matters.
A. Elements of a Copyright
Qualifying for a copyright is not very difficult. There are certain elements that must be met, including originality. The work cannot be a copy of anything else. Copyrights must also be tangible and at least a little creative. In other words, an idea cannot be copyrighted, but a written work can be.
B. What Can Be Copyrighted
Original works of authorship can be copyrighted, including:
- Architectural Works
Slogans, symbols, and designs cannot be copyrighted.
C. The Rights a Copyright Provides
When the owner of a work copyrights it, they have the ability to:
- Distribute; and
- Sell the work.
If the work is a play, they can perform it; if it is a movie, they can show it.
Copyright also allows the owner to prepare derivative works based on the original.
Copyright owners can also authorize others to exercise the rights given to them by the copyright.
II. Copyright Registration
Contrary to popular belief, copyright registration is not mandatory. However, to best protect your intellectual property, you should register a copyright for it. The benefits of copyright registration are many and the process does not have to be complicated with a copyright lawyer in [YOUR AREA] guiding and advising you.
A. Benefits of Copyright Registration
One of the benefits of copyright registration is that it establishes evidence that the work has an owner on record. Also, should another party attempt to infringe on the copyright, the fact the copyright is registered allows the owner to bring a lawsuit against the infringing party (a rejected application may be used for the same purpose).
If the copyright owner wants to seek statutory damages and attorney's fees in an infringement case, registration after publication or before the infringement occurs allows them to do so.
B. Copyright Registration Process
The registration process can typically be completed online. Some works may be submitted electronically, yet others must have a hard copy, which will not be returned.
Keep in mind, copyright information is public record and time limits apply as to when the registration must be filed.
Our copyright attorney at Laborde Legal Group will ensure the copyright registration process in [YOUR AREA] is undertaken properly and timely to ensure you receive maximum benefits.
III. Common Copyright Issues
Many challenges may arise with or throughout the copyright process. To provide context as to why it's important to seek legal counsel for copyright protection specifically and any intellectual property generally, some of the most common issues in the copyright process are briefly described below.
A. Ownership Issues
Often, disagreements arise over who actually owns the copyright.
A common example of this issue involves employee/employer situations. For example, if a person created original work that is copyrighted while in the employment of a company, then the company may own the copyright to the work. The opposite is typically true when the person creating the work is a freelancer. Many times this problem can be solved by reviewing relevant contracts, which hopefully address these matters and spell out who has a right to what. Without relevant terms and conditions in a contract, this issue becomes more problematic.
B. Time Limit on Copyrights
Many people fail to understand just how long copyright protects the original work. In most cases, it lasts for the life of the author (or creator) plus seventy years. This time limit varies based on the type of medium being copyrighted, so it is always best to confirm and not just assume how long a copyright lasts.
C. Fair Use Exception
The Fair Use exception to copyright is often overlooked or not properly understood. It holds that copyrighted materials may be used under certain conditions. The type of original work and the way it is being used are both considered under the Fair Use exception.
Common examples of when copyrighted materials may be used under this exception include:
- Teaching purposes
- Reporting the news
- Conducting research
- Providing criticism
IV. Copyright Infringement
Copyright infringement occurs when any person or entity violates the rights of the copyright owner. For example, if someone reproduces, performs, or displays a copyrighted work without the permission of the copyright owner, they have committed copyright infringement. To be guilty of copyright infringement, the person or entity that commits the infringement does not have to be seeking monetary gain.
A. Proving Copyright Infringement
Anyone that claims their copyright has been infringed upon must be able to prove that they are the owner of the copyrighted material and that their rights as such have been violated. They must also be able to show that the person or entity that violated their rights exceeded the fair use doctrine, which allows the use of copyrighted materials in certain situations and under certain conditions.
B. Remedies for Copyright Infringement
Injunctions are the most commonly sought remedy by victims of copyright infringement. An injunction serves to stop the infringing party from continuing to violate the copyright. Permanent injunctions prevent the infringing party from ever engaging in the infringement again.
Other civil and criminal remedies may be available in [YOUR AREA] to parties who have had their copyright infringed. It all depends on the facts and circumstances.
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Meet with one of Copyright & Intellectual Property Lawyers Today!
Intellectual property is critical to growth, and IP protection is critical to ensuring you and your business receive the benefits of your ideas and hard work. At Laborde Legal Group, our experienced and highly accessible ATTORNEYS are dedicated to assisting you in formulating, implementing, and maintaining robust Business, Contract, Corporate, Trusts/Estate & Intellectual Property strategies for you, your family, your legacy and your business endeavors. We offer personalized legal counsel tailored to your specific business needs, ensuring comprehensive safeguarding of your valuable assets, competitive position and boundless growth potential!