Our law firm assists clients with copyright registration. If you have an infringement or litigation issue‚ please see our copyright infringement or copyright litigation pages. If you are interested in a consultation with a copyright attorney, please contact us.
Copyright law protects the work product and interests of a vast number of businesses, entrepreneurs, independent contractors, developers, programmers, lyricists, architects, writers, artists, and other creatives.
A copyright exists from the time an original work of authorship is fixed to a tangible medium. For example‚ if you write an article and publish it on the Internet‚ it is fixed to a tangible medium and you likely own the copyright. Though not required‚ it is always a good idea to use a copyright notice on your work to put the world on notice of your rights. This is particularly true if you intend to publish your work. The notice should be in the following form: © 2019 Mandour & Associates‚ APC.
The first step in securing copyright protection is filing a copyright application. While official registration is not required to establish a copyright, there are many important benefits available through this essential process. Timely registration reaps additional benefits.
- Public Record: Your registration is public record, helping to defeat any claims of accidental or innocent infringement.
- Preventative Action: Sending a “Cease and Desist” letter with the backing of a registered copyright may quickly halt infringement against your copyrighted works without the need for further legal action, saving you time and money.
- Injunction Rights: When you register a copyright within five years of creating the works, you establish prima facieevidence which means you’ve created a legal assumption of ownership. This gives you injunction rights, allowing you to temporarily halt infringing activity right away while you pursue more permanent legal action.
- Right to Sue for Infringement: Copyright registration is required in the U.S. to pursue a copyright infringement lawsuit in federal court.
- Potential Recovery of More Damages: Registering your works within 3 months of creation allows you to recover additional damages in a successful copyright infringement lawsuit. This may include attorney fees, legal costs and statutory damages of up to $150,000 per infringement. This eliminates the need to prove actual damages, which at times can be difficult.
- Provides Information to Licensees: When you may profit from licensing your copyrighted works, registration helps licensees locate you to obtain the necessary permissions.
- Importation Infringement Prevention:Recording your registration with the S. Customs and Border Protection alerts them to the importation of infringing items, allowing them to detain and seize infringing goods.
In practice‚ the ability to recover statutory damages and attorneys’ fees for post-registration infringements often becomes a primary weapon for a copyright holder in the event of a copyright infringement. A registered copyright also notifies potential infringers that you are serious about protecting your intellectual property‚ and it also tends to increase the value of both the work and the business which owns it.
Copyright Registration Attorneys
On its face, the copyright registration process isn’t terribly complex. You complete and submit a copyright application that includes a copy of the work you want registered and pay a government filing fee. But determining whether your work meets the criteria for copyright protection, drafting a proper application and submitting the necessary evidence can be more difficult. This is further complicated by the differing types of works and arts categories available for registration including:
- Literary Works
- Performing Arts
- Visual Arts
- Motion Pictures
These categories impact your copyright registration. But, regardless of what you seek to register, you need to know what isn’t eligible. The following cannot be protected by copyright law:
- Domain names
- Names, titles, slogans
- Ideas, work methods, concepts, systems
Copyright applications are deceptively easy to file and so great care should be taken in preparing the application. If the application is not filed correctly‚ it is possible that it can later be invalidated.
Intellectual Property law protects many things, and in some cases, a work that cannot be protected under copyright registration, may be registered elsewhere.
When you opt to register your copyright, you’re in good company. In 2017, the U.S. Copyright Office registered 452,122 copyrights. That included literary works, performing art works, visual art works and sound recordings. Between 1790 and 2017, the Copyright Office issued nearly 38 million copyright registrations.
Works Made for Hire
If your employee creates content for you, as their employer, within the scope of their employment, this work is then owned by the employer. This is categorized as “work made for hire”. Three conditions apply.
- The creation of this material is within the normal range of duties that the employee typically performs.
- Most of the creative process that led to the creation of the work product occurred during authorized work hours.
- The work was performed to serve the employer, even if only partially.
Works Created by an Independent Contractor
One common misconception with copyrights is that‚ if you pay an independent contractor to create a work‚ then you own the work. This is not correct. Generally‚ a work for hire agreement must be signed by the independent contractor prior to creation of the work for this to be the case.
In copyright law, generally the literal author or creator of a work is the copyright owner. Established case law guides the assignment of copyrights in an eligible employee/employer situation, but independent contractor relationships operate by different rules under copyright law. In independent contractor relationships, if no written agreement exists it is typically the independent contractor that owns the copyright and the entity commissioning the work has a license to use it.
At times works created by an independent contractor may qualify as a work made for hire. Note that even if the work you commission from an Independent contractor may be considered a work made for hire, you also need a written contract identifying the Independent contractor’s work product as a “made for hire” work.
Independent Contractor Works that Don’t Qualify as “Works Made for Hire”
In today’s economy, hiring freelance workers and independent contractors to create blogs, software, social media posts, web copy and other copyrightable content is growing. Popularly referred to as the “gig economy”, this segment of the workforce represents a significant percentage of all U.S. workers. Typically for these types of works the creator owns the copyright and the entity commissioning the work only has a license to use it.
One way around the ownership issue is to obtain a copyright assignment. A copyright assignment transfers the copyright owner’s exclusive rights to you, allowing you to use the copyrighted material freely, as you wish.
A Word About Internet Works and Copyright Protection
Content available on the internet enjoys the same copyright protections as other works found offline, like books, newspapers, movies and DVDs. The rapid advancements in technology and the expansive growth of internet use has greatly impacted copyright infringement – especially on the internet. In many ways, it makes infringement effortless, with such easy access to the works of others. Yet, it also helps alert copyright owners of infringement more quickly than in the past. If you have a copyright infringement issue, please see our copyright infringement page.
Copyright Registration Lawyers – Mandour & Associates
The copyright registration attorneys at Mandour & Associates are intimately familiar with the copyright registration process and how to achieve copyright registration in the fasted and most efficient way possible. Our law firm handles copyright matters throughout southern California including Orange County (Irvine)‚ Los Angeles and San Diego. We look forward to assisting you.
If you have a copyright registration issue or any related questions, please do not hesitate to contact us.