WHAT IS A COPYRIGHT?
Pursuant to the Copyright Act, copyright protection is afforded to “original works of authorship fixed in any tangible medium of expression.” To demonstrate how important copyrights are for innovation, consider that copyright law was originally established in the United States Constitution under Article 1 Section 8 Clause 8. The Copyright Act of 1976, and some additional amendments govern issues concerning copyright law in the United States today.
The following categories qualify as works of authorship:
- literary works;
- musical works;
- dramatic works;
- choreography and pantomimes;
- pictorial, graphic, and sculptural works;
- motion pictures and other audiovisual works;
- sound recordings; and
- architectural works.
Thanks to copyright law, the author or current owner has the sole right to authorize copies or reproductions of the work and to create derivative works. All an author has to do is register the work to obtain their registration certificate. The author(s) may transfer the rights to any other party if they choose to do so, and this will need to be recorded with the U.S. Copyright Office. The right lasts for the rest of the author’s life, plus 70, 95 or 120 years, depending on the nature of authorship and creation date of the work.
CAN I LOSE RIGHTS IN MY COPYRIGHTS?
Copyright may appear easy to the layperson but can be challenging in practice. For instance, it is of the utmost importance that a legally enforceable agreement be used to transfer any one of the bundles of rights in your copyrighted work. Without it, ownership and title to the work may be in dispute and unlike the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, which offers an internal administrative process for resolving most disputes, the arena for copyright disputes in the United States is the U.S. Federal Courts.
We work with you to ensure that your copyrighted works are not only protected but that any use, transfer or commissioning of a work is protected as well. We also guide creators and innovators in understanding the overlap between copyrights and patent and trademark law and illuminate concepts such as fair use of copyrights so that you can better appreciate the line of where copyright infringement starts and ends. After all, if you create an original work of art, the least you can do is protect and profit from it over your lifetime.
To stay up to date on the latest news and information about copyrights and other IP, check out our blog!