Copyright is a form of intellectual property law that protects original works of authorship that have been fixed in a tangible medium. This includes books and other literature, movies, songs, computer software, and architecture. Copyright covers both published and unpublished works.
Copyright does not protect facts, ideas, systems, or methods, but it may protect the way these things are expressed. Copyright exists from the moment a work is created and fixed in a tangible medium (meaning the work can be perceived, reproduced, or communicated).
As the owner of copyrighted material, you can choose how that material is used. You also have exclusive right to use, distribute, or prepare derivative works based on the copyrighted material.
It can be very difficult to prove the actual damage (in dollars) that is done when a third party unlawfully uses your copyrighted works (songs, photos, writings, etc). However, if a copyright is registered with the Copyright Office, the owner is entitled to receive between $750 and $30,000 per copyrighted work that is infringed. These dollar figures are set by statute and can be a powerful tool for dealing with infringement.
Benefits of Registered Copyrights
Although not required by law, a copyright can be registered with the United States Copyright Office. Doing so comes with certain benefits and additional protection when infringement occurs.
Works that have been registered prior to infringement or within 3 months of publication may be eligible for statutory damages (even if there are little to no actual damages, which can be very hard to prove) and attorney’s fees if the copyright owner is successful during litigation. Works also must be registered before the owner can bring a lawsuit for infringement.
Perhaps more importantly, registering your copyrights can put others on notice that you are aware of your rights and ready to defend them if necessary. Doing so can help deter infringement before it ever happens.
Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA)
If a third party is posting or using your copyrighted content online without your permission, the DMCA provides a quick and efficient way to have it removed without going through the long and expensive litigation process.
Sending a DMCA takedown notice to the internet service provider associated with the infringing content requires the service provider to take prompt action against the infringing material. The DMCA also provides protection for those who have received fraudulent or mistaken takedown notice by responding with a counter notification.
If your material is being used in an illegal or unauthorized manner online or if you have been subject to a mistaken takedown notice, we can help you prepare and file a takedown notice or counter notification.