If you have any form of intellectual property, you have to ensure its legal protection, not only for the sake of your authorship but also for the purpose of safeguarding your ability to earn a living from it. A creator should seek intellectual property rights for his or her creations.
Intellectual Property Law
There are three main types of intellectual property and the law protects each type with a specific provision:
- Patents are for innovations;
- Trademarks, for names and identifying marks; and
- Copyrights, for artistic works
Inventors would have put in countless hours to guarantee the first production of innovation. That’s why to have someone else take away credit and compensation for other people’s inventions is wrong on many levels. Businesses that have established a recognizable brand should be wary of other companies or entrepreneurs infringing on their trademark. This has the potential to damage their hard-earned reputation. Meanwhile, creators of different forms of artistic expression should also take care to protect their original works with copyright.
The United States copyright law covers creative works set in a tangible form, which means that the work is not just in somebody’s mind or something that can be performed. This original work should have been saved in a physical way. Examples are literary works, musical compositions, photographs, videos, paintings, sculptural creations, sound recordings, et cetera.
In the case of a lyricist and a composer working together on a song, each may own the copyright to just his or her part of the creation, or share copyright ownership of the entire song just like in the case of two authors co-writing a novel. This potentially confusing scenario is best handled with the guidance of an attorney specializing in US copyright law so both parties understand their respective rights. In general, the copyright holder is the person who created the work. This is true even if it had been paid for by somebody else unless it was a “work for hire” agreement.
Register a Copyright
A copyright notice is a pretty helpful deterrent in stopping somebody from copying your work without permission. The copyright symbol will make somebody think twice about committing plagiarism. Having your work protected by copyright is necessary if you want to be able to sue anybody who uses, displays, or produces derivative work based on your creation without your permission. If your work is not protected, others might feel free to make copies without your consent. To have your work copyrighted, register it with the United States Copyright Office. It’s a relatively simple and inexpensive process, ranging from $35 to $100 worth of US Copyright Office fees per work.
Nonetheless, you don’t need to have every creative work covered by copyright. You only need to file a copyright registration on the ones that are important to your business. For instance, bloggers don’t need to have every blog post copyright protected. Neither do photographers need to have every picture protected under copyright. It wouldn’t be practical or cost-effective. To have their creations protected by copyright law, they can instead gather the individual works and then register them as collective work for the same fee.
There are instances when the author or artist is not the copyright owner of his or her work such as in works made for hire. In this case, “moral rights” may be exercised. This means that the creator, despite having no copyright, still has a right to ensure that the work is not mutilated or distorted.
Need Legal Advice on Copyright Issues? Contact an Intellectual Property Lawyer Today!
If you have any concern about copyrighting, it’s important that you approach an IP lawyer for correct copyright information, whether it’s about how to copyright or what to do when any kind of copyright issue arises, e.g. someone has committed copyright infringement or copyright has expired. A lawyer is definitely called for if you want to take legal action against copyright violations. On matters involving copyright laws, call us War IP Law to speak with an experienced copyright attorney.