Written by AskTheLawyers.com™
Written by AskTheLawyers.com™
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Copyright refers to the legal exclusivity regarding the distribution or recreation of a piece of material, usually given to the creator but in other cases can be given to an assignee. Typically, types of property which can be protected under copyright law include written words, images, and videos in any and all of their forms. While copyright technically automatically exists for any new work, if another party infringes on that natural copyright, it can be hard to prove in court. This is why it’s a good idea to register any creation you are attached to under copyright. You can do so simply by going to copyright.gov under the Library of Congress, filling out an application and possibly paying a filing fee.
In many cases, violations of copyright laws occur accidentally. Something as simple as using a celebrity name or quoting a song could be considered copyright infringement if proper accreditation didn’t go with it. If you are creating any kind of work that might need to mention another person or their creations within it, it’s important to speak to a copyright lawyer to avoid accidentally infringing on another person’s copyright and finding yourself in legal trouble. It may be helpful to note that copyright holders can license or sell the rights to a third party for the work they own if they should choose.
Copyright Holders Have Certain Rights.
Copyright holders have exclusive and specific rights regarding their material, including:
- The ability to publish the work
- The freedom to print, or reprint the work
- The freedom to perform the work
- The ability to make a film production about the work
- The freedom to allow other parties to do the above with express permission
Only Certain Types of Material Can be Protected by Copyright.
Not every piece of intellectual property is subject to protection by copyright. For example, logos, slogans, and the names of companies can be trademarked, and new inventions and ideas can be patented. When a copyright has been violated, the violator generally receives a Cease-and-Desist letter. A Cease-and-Desist letter usually offers enough notice to the person who infringed on another person’s copyright so that no legal action is necessary. However, in situations where a Cease-and-Desist letter yields no results, and the violator continues to infringe on that copyright or openly challenges it, the case can be decided in court. However, the most common protection for the majority of intellectual property is copyright, and can be applied to types of property including:
- Architecture and design
There Are Two Kinds of Damages a Copyright Holder Can Receive in a Successful Infringement Case.
If a copyright is violated and a Cease-and-Desist letter does not result in adequate reparations being made, the case can then be taken to court where a judge and jury will decide who has the right to control the material in question. The damages that can be claimed in a copyright infringement case are unique and can be quite costly to the party decided to be in violation of the copyright, ranging widely based primarily on whether the infringement was intentional or not.
- Statutory damages. According to Copyright Alliance, statutory damages can range from $50 to $30,000 per work. However, if the violation is thought to be intentional, the damages could increase enormously, up to $150,000 per work. If the work did not contain a copyright notice and the violator was unaware that their actions violated a copyright, the amount can be reduced again to a minimum of $200 per work. However, it’s important to note that the copyright holder is only eligible to receive compensation for these damages if they registered their work with the United States Copyright Office within three months of publication of the material, or before the infringement began.
- Profits of the infringer. If the infringer of the copyright made profit based on the material of the copyright holder, they could be required to pay those profits forward to the copyright holder. If the violator’s profits can be proven to be at least in part due to other factors, they may only have to pay a partial amount of the profit to the copyright holder.
If you are concerned that your copyright might have been violated either intentionally or accidentally by another party, or if you are worried that your own material might accidentally infringe on someone else’s copyright, seek legal counsel from a copyright lawyer to see what action you can take to protect yourself and your intellectual property.