Copyright Law

Copyright Law Lawyer

Copyright Law

Copyrights are intellectual property rights that protects the authorship of original works of artistic works such as books, songs, plays and software. Copyrights give the owner of a work the right of reproduction, distribution, adaptation, public performance, public display, and language translations.

Copyright Legal Issues:

If someone else uses your copyrighted work without your permission, you as the owner may be entitled to bring an infringement action against that person. Using a quote or a sample could be an exception to this. However, when in doubt, a person should ask the owner for consent. Copyrights cover works such as:

  • Books
  • Poems
  • Sound recordings and musical works
  • Paintings, photographs and cartoons
  • Motion pictures and animation
  • Computer software (majority of material on the internet)

Copyrights do not cover:

  • Facts and measurements
  • Short words or phrases
  • Business names and book titles
  • Ideas
  • Processes

What an Copyright Lawyer can do for you:

Copyright lawyers can help answer any questions about protecting the copyright of work you have created, or determining if someone can legally use someone else's work. A copyright lawyer can also be useful when going through the process of copyrighting, such as preparing and submitting documents and even drafting license agreements. An attorney will also help in copyright infringement cases in the event that someone violates your copyrights as an owner.

Copyright in USA Law

Copyright law in the U.S. is based on the Copyright Act of 1976, a federal statute that went into effect on January 1, 1978 (Copyright Act). The federal agency charged with administering the act is the Copyright Office of the Library of Congress.

State copyright laws are limited to works that cannot be protected under federal copyright law. States cannot enact their own laws beyond the term of protection given by the Copyright Act.

Copyright law protects "works of authorship." The Copyright Act states that works of authorship include the following types of works:

  • Literary and Musical works
  • Dramatic, Pantomimes and choreographic works
  • Pictorial, graphic, Architectural and sculptural works
  • Motion pictures and other audiovisual works
  • Interactive multimedia works

To receive copyright protection, a work must be original and must be fixed in a tangible medium of expression. Certain types of works are not copyrightable. A work is original if it owes its origin to the author and was not copied from some preexisting work. A work is fixed when it is made sufficiently permanent or stable to permit it to be perceived, reproduced, or otherwise communicated for a period of more than transitory duration.

Uncopyrightable works and works for which copyright protection has ended are referred to as "public domain" works. Copyright protection arises automatically when an original work of authorship is fixed in a tangible medium of expression. Registration with the Copyright Office is optional. However you have to register with the Copyright Office before you file an infringement suit. The use of copyright notice is optional for works distributed after March 1, 1989.

Under current law, the copyright term for works created by individuals is the life of the author plus 70 years. The copyright term for works made for hire is 95 years from the date of first publication or 120 years from the date of creation, whichever expires first.

A copyright owner has five exclusive rights in the copyrighted work:

  • Reproduction Right. The reproduction right is the right to copy, duplicate, transcribe, or imitate the work in fixed form.
  • Modification Right. The modification right (derivative works right) is the right to modify the work to create a new work.
  • Distribution Right. The distribution right is the right to distribute copies of the work to the public by sale, rental, lease, or lending.
  • Public Performance Right. The public performance right is the right to perform the work at public place or to transmit it to the public.
  • Public Display Right. The public display right is the right to show a copy of the work directly or by means of a film, slide, or television image at a public place or to transmit it to the public.

Anyone who violates any of the exclusive rights of a copyright owner is an infringer. A copyright owner can recover actual or, in some cases, statutory damages from an infringer. The federal district courts have the power to issue injunction orders to prevent or restrain copyright infringement and to order the impoundment and destruction of infringing copies. The copyright owner's exclusive rights are subject to a number of exceptions that allow others the right to make limited use of a copyrighted work.

Exceptions include; Ideas, Facts, Independent Creation and Fair Use (The Copyright Act does not define fair use. Fair use is determined by balancing the purpose and character of the use, the nature of the copyrighted work, the amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work the effect of the use on the potential market).

The U.S. Copyright Act, 17 U.S.C. 101 - 810, is Federal legislation enacted by Congress under its Constitutional grant of authority to protect the writings of authors. See U.S. Constitution, Article I, Section 8. Changing technology has led to an ever expanding understanding of the word "writings". The Copyright Act now reaches architectural design, software, the graphic arts, motion pictures, and sound recordings. See 106 of the act. Given the scope of the Federal legislation and its provision precluding inconsistent state law, the field is almost exclusively a Federal one. See 301 of the act.

A copyright gives the owner the exclusive right to reproduce, distribute, perform, display, or license his work. See 106 of the act. The owner also receives the exclusive right to produce or license derivatives of his or her work. See 201(d) of the act. Limited exceptions to this exclusivity exist for types of "fair use," such as book reviews. See 107 of the act. To be covered by copyright a work must be original and in a concrete "medium of expression." See 102 of the act. Under current law, works are covered whether or not a copyright notice is attached and whether or not the work is registered.

The federal agency charged with administering the act is the Copyright Office of the Library of Congress. See 701 of the act. Its regulations are found in Parts 201 - 204 of title 37 of the Code of Federal Regulations.

In 1989 the U.S. joined the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works.

Lawyer Referral Service:

Attorney Search Network can refer you to a copyright lawyer who can help protect your copyrights. Call Attorney Search Network today for a copyright lawyer referral in your area.

If you have any questions about the information provided above, please contact us. Call us toll free at (800) 215-1190 or fill out our online form for your Intellectual Property lawyer referral.

If you have any questions about the information provided above, please contact Attorney Search Network.