What Are Copyrights and How Do I Protect Them?

About Copyright Laws

Copyrights are used to protect the expressive arts. Copyrights give owners the exclusive rights to reproduce their own work, publicly display or perform their work, and create works that are based on their own work.
Additionally, copyright owners have the exclusive right to financially benefit from their work—and to prohibit others from making money off their work without their permission. A key point to understand is that copyrights do not protect ideas, they only protect how ideas are expressed.

Protecting Copyrights

Copyright protection is available for creative works that have been fixed in a tangible form. This means that the work is not just in your head or something you perform—it has also been saved in some physical way. This could be writings, songs, photos, videos, paintings, sculptures or audio recordings, and many others.

When Julia, a lyricist, and Lisa, a composer, work together to co-write a song, they may hold copyrights over only their part of the creation, or they may jointly hold the copyrights, such as when two authors work together to write a novel. An intellectual property attorney can assist them in identifying their respective rights.

Generally speaking, copyright is usually held by the person who created the work—even if the work was paid for by someone else—unless it was a “work for hire” arrangement.

Having copyright protection in place is important if you want to be able to sue someone for using or displaying your work without your permission. To get a registered copyright, you need to register the work with the U.S. Copyright Office. It’s not a complicated or especially expensive process ($35–$100 per work for Copyright Office fees) but you’ll probably only want to do this for works that are important to your business. Filing a copyright registration on every blog post and photograph is usually not cost-effective or practical, but you may decide to gather all of these posts or photographs into a collection and register a copyright on the entire project for the same fee.

Under certain circumstances, an author may have “moral rights” to their works in the United States. This generally means that even if the author has licensed or sold rights to their work, they still have a right to ensure their work is not distorted or mutilated.

Do I Need a Washington DC Copyright Attorney?

If you are asking yourself that question, the answer is probably yes, you need a copyright attorney. Your intellectual property is too important to take chances with. Our experienced copyright attorneys can evaluate your original works and determine how to best protect your intellectual property. Our copyright attorneys may also help you to avoid infringing on the copyright protected intellectual property of others.

Contact an Washington DC Intellectual Property Lawyers

Whenever you have questions about intellectual property, you should consult with an experienced Washington, D.C. IP Attorney at War IP Law, PLLC. We will take the time to answer your questions and, if needed, can take immediate action for you to protect your IP and defend against infringement claims. Call us today for a consultation.