Copyright Infringement Attorney in Washington, DC

Copyright infringement usually happens when someone uses some other person’s original creative work or a copyrighted work without consent, including artistic, dramatic, literary, musical, technical, as well as other works that are fixed in a tangible medium, whether published or unpublished. Copyright protects the fixed expression of an idea or fact, but not the underlying ideas, procedures, business methods, concepts, or discoveries. War IP Law PLLC, a copyright infringement attorney (Washington DC), knows the importance of ideas and is experienced in protecting and enhancing such ideas.

By getting in touch with a copyright infringement attorney (Washington DC) at War IP Law PLLC early in the process, we can start helping you navigate the complicated copyright laws so that your submission is executed properly and be defendable in case of copyright infringement.

Why Do I Need a Copyright Infringement Attorney in Washington DC?

Creating copyright and filing it correctly is only half the battle in preserving copyrights and brands. When a non-affiliated brand or party suspects or discovers copyright infringement, our Washington, D.C. IP attorney at War IP Law PLLC can quickly seek injunctions, issue and respond to requests for cease-and-desist orders, issue Digital Millennium Copyright Act takedown notices to internet providers, and seek out-of-court options. 

Every day, copyrights have an impact on our lives in both visible and hidden ways. Clients come to War IP Law PLLC’s highly qualified copyright infringement lawyers to shed light on difficulties and risks, give legal advice informed by wide business perspectives, and deliver solutions customized to their corporate goals. Call us now for an appointment so we could discuss your case and explore the best course of actions for you right away!

What Is Copyright?

copyright infringement attorney washington dc Like patents and trademarks, copyright is a type of intellectual property protection that ensures only the rightful owner or owners of an original work may claim it as their own. Copyright is protected by legislation approved by Congress, giving it precedence over individual state laws and makes it the law of the land in all 50 states of the U.S

An “original work” must be fixed in a “tangible medium of expression” to be subject to copyright, according to Section 102 of the United States Copyright Act. A tangible medium is something that can be heard, can be seen, can be touched, or can be read and is printed on paper, caught on film, or stored as a digital file. The following are some instances of copyrighted material:

  • Literature works
  • Operas, musicals, and dramatic plays
  • Songs and other types of sound recordings
  • Television programs, movies, as well as other film recordings
  • Live programs and other broadcasts
  • Databases
  • Apps, websites, and computer programs

What are Works That Don’t Have Copyright Protection?

However, copyright protection may not be applied to the type of subjects listed below. Instead of copyrighting these works, the creators or owners may seek other types of intellectual property protection, such as a patent or trademark, to get the exclusive rights to use the materials.

  • Titles, tag lines, and slogans
  • Concepts and ideas
  • Methods, systems, and procedures of doing things
  • Ingredients list
  • Information that is standard (e.g., measurements, weight or height charts, calendars)
  • Symbols that people are familiar with, like a “no smoking” sign

What are the Terms of Copyright Protection?

As long as the creator of the original work lives, the work is protected by copyright. However, the term of protection expires 70 years after his death. If the original work was made by more than one person, the protection will end 70 years after the last living creator dies. Anonymous or pseudonymous works, on the other hand, are protected for 95 years from the date they were first published.

What are the Limitations on Copyright Law?

Copyright law normally gives the original creator of a book, movie, or painting certain exclusive rights that no one else can use. If someone “steals” your copyrighted work, they could be held liable for their copyright infringement. However, one of the most often employed defenses against accusations of copyright infringement is the doctrine of “fair use”.

When a person uses copyrighted materials without permission but in a “fair” way, this is considered to be an excusable use. 

When Will a Particular Use be Considered “Fair” by the Courts?

How Is “Fair Use” Decided?

“Fair use” is usually decided when someone sues for copyright infringement. The copyright owner (the plaintiff) will say that someone else stole their work (the defendant). At this point, the defendant who is being accused of infringement can say that the fair use doctrine means that the infringement is excused. This doctrine comes from , which is part of the 1976 Copyright Act.

When this argument is brought up in court, four things are taken into account. If the weight of the factors favors the defendant who is using the copyrighted work of the plaintiff without permission, the court may decide that the defendant can use the material without permission. In this case, the defendant can keep using the work without giving the plaintiff any money as compensation.

In order to help judges decide what is fair use, the people who drafted the Copyright Act included four factors:

  1. the purpose and character of the use, such as whether it is of commercial nature or educational and nonprofit purposes.
  2. the copyrighted work’s nature
  3. how much of the copyrighted work was used compared to the whole, and
  4. how the use affects the copyrighted work’s potential market or value.

The people who wrote the Copyright Act made sure to say that the “Fair Use” doctrine in Section 107 was just a guideline. A law may give a general explanation, but courts are free to use the doctrine in different ways depending on the situation.

Copyright Infringement: What Does It Mean?

Copyright infringement takes place when someone who isn’t the creator, the owner, or the holder of a copyright alters, copies, displays, distributes, exhibits, publishes, transmits, or otherwise uses a work as though it were their own.

Copyright infringement claims usually involve the infringer profiting from the copyrighted work. However, an infringement claim may be made regardless of profit.

There are several forms of copyright law violations. Below are examples of copyright infringement if done without permission from the creator, the owner, or the holder of the copyright:

  • Plagiarizing elements of a work of literature in an academic journal without proper attribution
  • Copying text from a business competitor’s website and pasting it on yours
  • Making a copy of a book and selling it
  • Filming and broadcasting a theatrical performance
  • Downloading music without paying for a license
  • Holding a public screening of a movie at your house
  • Using a digital camera or smartphone to record a movie at a cinema
  • Parts of a TV show are being recorded and posted on YouTube
  • Creating a database from a social media network and then contacting the subscribers via email
  • Uploading software to a file-sharing service
  • Creating an advertisement with a copyrighted tune playing in the background
  • Making items for sale that contains copyrighted words or pictures without first obtaining permission from the owner.

Copyright Violations and Their Penalties

Officially, the penalties for copyright infringement are laid out in Sections 502, 504, 505, and 506 of the United States Copyright Act. These penalties can be either civil or criminal by nature:

  • Copyright infringement damages
  • Profits lost due to the infringement
  • Statutory damages ranging from $750 to $30,000 for each work that is infringed upon
  • If infringement is intentional or willful, a civil penalty of up to $150,000 for each work
  • Penalties for offenses include up to five years in prison and fines of up to $250,000
  • Recovery of fees and costs for attorneys
  • Injunctive relief to stop the offense immediately

How Can My Small Business Avoid Copyright Infringement Problems on Social Media?

Any small business owner worth their salt will attest to the power of social media in expanding their company’s reach. Small businesses can take advantage of the enormous and active user base of social media by connecting with customers and sharing content that interests them.

But as the internet has become more common in our society, the rules about copyright and who owns online content have also become more complex.

In order to successfully market your company online, it is imperative that you have a firm grasp of copyright law as it relates to social media.

Guidelines to Avoid Copyright Infringement and Becoming Involved in a Copyright Lawsuit

Assume there’s copyright all the time

It is best to assume that copyright laws protect all created work that has been made. There is still a significant likelihood that somebody already owns the rights to the material even if you are unable to find an explicit notice stating that it is intended for public use.

If you want to use the original material, it would be best to get written permission from the copyright holder. Strive to get in touch with the person or people involved to work out a deal or talk about its use.

Read and do research about the IP before you use it

Some people were open to sharing their original work in exchange for payment. There are also people who will let you use their creative work as long as you give them credit. If there are no specific fees or other conditions about attribution, you might be able to find the Terms of Use on the owner’s website. Read the terms and conditions carefully, because the crucial information is in the small print. For example, you can use someone’s picture in printed materials like brochures, magazines, or posters, but it might be against the copyright or Terms of Use to use it online.

If there are no clear fees, attribution rules, or Terms of Use, it’s best to assume that you can’t use the material. Again, your best bet is to talk to the owner and get their permission.

Learn the ins and outs of Fair Use

But if you know your rights under Fair Use, you can still use original work for non-commercial projects without permission if you can’t get permission. But you need to think about a few variables that could change how you use it. Before you use someone else’s work, you should think about how it will change its value on the market. Always be careful, and if you’re not sure about copyright laws, talk to a lawyer.

Use materials that are in the Public Domain

Under the Public Domain, there are many venues to find free-to-use materials. Look for the ones that have a Creative Commons license, which means they can be sold.

Create your own work or pay someone else to do it you

If you are creative or artistic, you can make your own original material rather than copying or modifying the work of others. If you have the money, you can also hire other people to make the creations for you. In this particular instance, you will still hold the copyright because it was produced under “works made for hire” or because it was part of their job or contract.

Give Importance to the Terms of Service and the Fair Use Guidelines on Social Media

Take note that there is one major exception to these rules. Specifically, when posting content to a social media platform like YouTube or Twitter, you have to agree to the platform’s terms of use, which generally provide the platform a license to use your content in numerous ways. For instance, most social media sites say something like, “Any content you post on our site may be used anywhere else on our platform to make our product work better or look better.” 

Keep in mind that even if the terms of service of a social media platform let you share work on their site, it may not let you share the work anywhere else online. However, there are limitations to this use. Typically, the terms of service provide a license from the artist to the platform, thus third-party website visitors do not share the same license.

In other words, you don’t have permission to use content just because it’s on the Internet or just because somebody else has a license to use the content. As the owner of a brand or business, you can’t post other people’s work without their permission and proper attribution, even if you are posting it on the same site where you found it. Make sure you read the rules on ownership rights in all of the social media profiles of your small business to fully understand how you can use someone else’s work on the social media feed for your business.

Each social media platform has its own set of terms of service that you have to follow.

Contact our Washington Copyright Infringement Attorney Now!

You need a Washington, D.C. IP attorney who has handled copyright cases before and who has access to relevant information and resources when you’re trying to figure out how to handle copyright issues. Contact War IP Law PLLC, immediately if you need help with a copyright infringement problem.