Copyrights are defined as the exclusive rights granted to an author or a claimant with regard to their copyrightable work(s). This right often includes the right to distribute, copy, and make derivatives of the protected work. In order for a work to be protectable in the United States, the work must be an original work of authorship fixed in a tangible medium or form of expression. A work is fixed in a tangible medium where it is embodied in a copy produced either by, or with the permission of, the author and can be perceived, reproduced, or communicated in other manners for a period greater than a transitory period. Common examples of works fixed in tangible mediums include sculptures, paintings, architectural designs, music recordings, books and scripts.

While copyright protection may be extended to a work independent of registration, registration plays an important role in ensuring rights are respected and provides other advantages as well. One example of the additional benefits of copyright registration deals with litigation surrounding the copyright. Typically, parties to litigation in the United States are responsible for their own costs in litigation regardless of the outcome. With timely registration of copyrightable works, however, a fee shifting provision found in 17 U.S.C. §412 allows a successful plaintiff in litigation to recover the cost of bringing an infringement suit against an alleged infringer in addition to allowing recovery of the lawyer’s fees associated. In accordance with the statute, a plaintiff must simply register their work with the Copyright Office prior to initiating the suit for infringement. Alternatively, a work that was registered within three months of first publication or distribution may also receive the benefit of the statutory fee shifting provision. 17 U.S.C. §504 permits the election, on the part of a copyright owner, to receive statutory damages for all infringements involved in the action. This provision allows the copyright owner to hold infringers liable for a sum of not less than $750 per work and not to exceed $30,000. In situations where a court finds that infringement was willful, the statutory maximum is raised to $150,000. This acts as a major benefit for those in situations where actual damage and infringer profits are difficult to prove. Here, statutory damages help to allow the infringed party to leverage a time-effective settlement against infringers of their work.

Copyright protection and its benefits are restricted to only certain types of work and therefore often only comprise a portion of an intellectual property portfolio. Concepts, systems, methods, and ideas are not eligible to receive the protection of copyrights but may be eligible for other intellectual property protections such as patents. At the Plus IP Firm, our attorneys are registered to practice before the United States Patent and Trademark Office and are prepared to assist you to identify the most important ways to protect your work.

The attorneys at the Plus IP Firm have extensive experience filing applications with the Copyright Office and obtaining copyright protections for the works of clients in a wide range of fields. We can assist in obtaining copyrights for your graphics, artwork, source code, books, periodicals, and other similar works. Our attorneys are likewise skilled and experienced in litigation related to copyrights and are prepared to assist in this process. Our team has represented many clients to enforce their rights to their works and defend against allegations of infringement. We are available to discuss any questions that you may have regarding the copyrights of your works.

Copyright Registrations

Can my work be copyrighted?

To obtain a federally registered copyright, you must have created an original work of authorship fixed in a tangible medium of expression. The original work must meet a minimum threshold of creativity defining protectible elements to be awarded copyright protection.

What types of works are protected under copyright?

Your work may be protectible by copyright if it is a literary, musical, dramatic, pantomime or choreographic, pictorial, graphic, sculptural, motion picture, or audiovisual work. These categories are quite expansive and have different requirements that must be met in order to obtain a federally registered copyright. To determine whether your work is copyrightable, please contact the highly knowledgeable attorneys at The Plus IP Firm.

What happens if I my work changes?

Often people create a work in one medium that is later converted to a different medium, such as a book that is then turned into a movie. Another example is when a person writes down song lyrics, and later, performs the piece in a recording studio. Luckily, protection of copyrighted works extends to ‘derivative works;’ meaning any production that is derived from your original work is protectible if it still maintains the original work of authorship fixed in a tangible medium of expression. This holds true regardless of the category of the work. This also means that your work may be protected against infringers who create works derived from yours. For example, if you write a novel and someone rewrites it in a different language or writes a sequel or spin off based on your novel without your consent, then they may be infringing on your copyright.

How long does my copyright last?

Your copyright protection may vary depending on when your work was created. Generally speaking, if you recently created your work then it can potentially be protected for the duration of your LIFE, PLUS an additional 70 YEARS! If the work was created as a work for hire, then it may be protected for a period of 95 YEARS from its first publication date, or 120 YEARS from creation, whichever expires first.

What are the benefits of registering for a copyright?

Statutory Damages: A copyright is one of the strongest forms of intellectual property. They are also the only form of intellectual property with statutory damages; meaning if someone infringes or copies your work, then each instance of infringement can result in damages ranging from $750 to $30,000. If the infringement was willful, as in someone copied your registered copyrighted work knowingly or with reckless disregard, you may be entitled to damages of up to $150,000 per work.

Costs and Attorney’s Fees: A registered copyright entitles your case to be litigated in Federal Court. Therefore, the cost to litigate a copyright infringement lawsuit can get expensive. In fact, court costs and attorney fees for average copyright litigation can range anywhere from a few hundred thousand dollars to a million dollars. However, if you prevail in a copyright infringement lawsuit, then the court may grant the recovery of full costs by or against the other party, including an award of reasonable attorney fees as part of the costs. This provision entitles the party to statutory damages, costs, and attorney fees that may make it easier to hire an attorney who is willing to take your case on a contingent fee basis. Copyright Registrations

Can my work be copyrighted?

To obtain a federally registered copyright, you must have created an original work of authorship fixed in a tangible medium of expression. The original work must meet a minimum threshold of creativity defining protectible elements to be awarded copyright protection.

What types of works are protected under copyright?

Your work may be protectible by copyright if it is a literary, musical, dramatic, pantomime or choreographic, pictorial, graphic, sculptural, motion picture, or audiovisual work. These categories are quite expansive and have different requirements that must be met in order to obtain a federally registered copyright. To determine whether your work is copyrightable, please contact the highly knowledgeable attorneys at The Plus IP Firm.

What happens if I my work changes?

Often people create a work in one medium that is later converted to a different medium, such as a book that is then turned into a movie. Another example is when a person writes down song lyrics, and later, performs the piece in a recording studio. Luckily, protection of copyrighted works extends to ‘derivative works;’ meaning any production that is derived from your original work is protectible if it still maintains the original work of authorship fixed in a tangible medium of expression. This holds true regardless of the category of the work. This also means that your work may be protected against infringers who create works derived from yours. For example, if you write a novel and someone rewrites it in a different language or writes a sequel or spin off based on your novel without your consent, then they may be infringing on your copyright.

How long does my copyright last?

Your copyright protection may vary depending on when your work was created. Generally speaking, if you recently created your work then it can potentially be protected for the duration of your LIFE, PLUS an additional 70 YEARS! If the work was created as a work for hire, then it may be protected for a period of 95 YEARS from its first publication date, or 120 YEARS from creation, whichever expires first.

What are the benefits of registering for a copyright?

Statutory Damages: A copyright is one of the strongest forms of intellectual property. They are also the only form of intellectual property with statutory damages; meaning if someone infringes or copies your work, then each instance of infringement can result in damages ranging from $750 to $30,000. If the infringement was willful, as in someone copied your registered copyrighted work knowingly or with reckless disregard, you may be entitled to damages of up to $150,000 per work.

Costs and Attorney’s Fees: A registered copyright entitles your case to be litigated in Federal Court. Therefore, the cost to litigate a copyright infringement lawsuit can get expensive. In fact, court costs and attorney fees for average copyright litigation can range anywhere from a few hundred thousand dollars to a million dollars. However, if you prevail in a copyright infringement lawsuit, then the court may grant the recovery of full costs by or against the other party, including an award of reasonable attorney fees as part of the costs. This provision entitles the party to statutory damages, costs, and attorney fees that may make it easier to hire an attorney who is willing to take your case on a contingent fee basis.

 

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