General Copyright Information
Generally, copyright protection is available for original works of art such as books, music, plays, pictures, movies, architecture and certain other works. Copyrights provide protection whether the work is published or unpublished and, unlike a patent, gives the artist positive rights, the right to work with the intellectual innovation.
Copyright protection protects creative works which have been incorporated into a tangible item, like a book, music, painting, movies. Copyright protection does not extend to functional ideas, rather they protect the tangible products created by those artists. Additionally, the copyright protection only extends to the original works of authorship embodied in the tangible items.
Under Copyright Law, the copyright holder has an exclusive right to reproduce the authored work, prepare alternative embodiment’s of the work (derivative works), distribute copies and for some categories of art, publicly perform and publicly display the work. These rights are very valuable because they allow the copyright owner to not only use the work but also prevent others from using the work.
Thanks to the Copyright Term Extension Act, for works created after 1978, in the case of an individual artist, these rights last for the life of the artist plus seventy (70) years. For a business, the duration is ninety-five (95) years from publication or 120 years from creation.
Under the Copyright laws, it is illegal for anyone to violate any of the copyright owners rights (infringement). However, the Copyright laws also provide for some defenses and in some cases exemptions from liability. One common exemption is the doctrine of “fair use” which permits infringement of another’s work in some special circumstances. In other instances, the Copyright laws allow another to use a copyrighted work with the use of a “compulsory license” under which certain uses are permitted after payment of specified royalties and compliance with other requirements.
Benefits of Registration
Registration offers many advantages and is recommended at the same time or before publishing the work. Copyright protection rewards the artist for creating a work of art based upon their work or labor in creating the original art works. However, this reward has a price. After a period of time, the work becomes part of the public domain which is then free for anyone to use.
Registration and the use of a copyright notice on the work of art also places the public on notice of the existence of the copyright. The registration also provides a presumption that the copyright on the registered work is valid. In addition, before a suit for infringement can be brought, the original work of art must be registered with the Copyright Office. Finally, early registration of the work may allow the copyright owner to obtain certain statutory damages provided by the copyright law along with the collect involved in bringing such litigation, including attorney’s fees. Therefore, it is recommended that you contact one of our experienced copyright attorney’s to assist you in your registration process.
Copyright infringement occurs when someone violates your rights under copyright law. As previously stated, Copyright law provides a right to reproduce your work; a right to adapt your work based upon your original work (such as adapting a book for a movie or a a translation); distribute copies of your work; publicly perform your work; or publicly display your work. Copyright infringement occurs when someone violates one of these rights. Copyright infringement may also occur where a person or group exceeds the scope of permission provided under a contract or license. When a claim of infringement has been made, a copyright holder may sue for:
- a preliminary or permanent injunction to prevent further harm;
- impounding and destruction of the infringing goods; and/or
- monetary damages.
There are exceptions and defenses against a claim of infringement, including a fair use exception, an independent creation defense and a claim that the person claiming infringement does not hold a valid copyright.
If you believe someone has violated your rights or if someone has challenged your copyrights, you should contact a copyright attorney at your earliest convenience.