Significant time, creativity, hard work and financial resources are expended in developing a creative work. Securing copyright protection to safeguard rights to capitalize on the investments made in the creative work are critical.
Lloyd & Mousilli helps startups, technology companies, architects, artists, authors, engineers, photographers, and other creative people determine whether their creative material is entitled to copyright protection and, if it is, we help protect and control the use of their work through securing copyrights.
A copyright is a form of legal protection provided by federal law that gives the copyright holder certain exclusive rights for the use and distribution of an original work of authorship. These rights include the exclusive legal right to print, publish, perform, film or record literary, artistic, or musical materials, and the right to authorize others to do the same. In essence, a copyright protects your unique ideas and material from being used or profited from by others.
Copyright law covers a very broad range of intellectual, artistic, and creative forms, including but not limited to:
- Literary works, including computer programs and databases (with or without illustrations, published or unpublished). Examples include books, poetry, manuscripts, reports, speeches, pamphlets, brochures, textbooks, catalogs, and directories;
- Musical works, including any accompanying words (the original composition and arrangement, as well as modified versions having added copyrightable material);
- Dramatic works and any accompanying music (e.g., a play, screenplay, and radio or television scripts but not the title of a program or series of programs);
- Pantomines and choreographic works;
- Visual arts works, including pictorial, graphic, and sculptural works and two-dimensional and three-dimensional works of fine, graphic, and applied art. Examples include advertisements, bumper stickers, comic strips, collages, dolls, toys, drawings, greeting cards, puzzles, photographs, posters, reproductions, and technical drawings such as blueprints, diagrams, or architectural plans;
- Motion pictures and other audiovisual works (including the camera work, dialogue, sounds); and
- Sound recordings (both the performance and the engineering or production).
At Lloyd & Mousilli, we handle all aspects of copyright law. Our legal team assists artists, musicians, publishers, software companies, writers, photographers and businesses with protecting their online content, published media, and other original works.
We represent clients in a variety of copyright-related matters in both transactional and litigation situations. We can assist you through the process of applying for copyright registration and establishing a public record of your claim. Additionally, if someone is using your idea or material without your authorization, we can help to enforce your copyright protections.
Lloyd & Mousilli copyright lawyers offer our clients detailed opinions on whether new or contemplated products would infringe upon the intellectual property, including copyright, of another business. Our law firm attorneys research related products or technology, prosecution history of the competition’s designs, and related intellectual property. Fully analyzing the scope of a competitor’s product guides our client strategies for developing or introducing novel products in the marketplace to avoid otherwise challenging legal issues.
Our attorneys have experience representing clients during litigation regarding copyright infringement, license, and royalty disputes, and other copyright-related matters.
To learn more about common questions about copyrights in the United States, see the following FAQs.
Copyright laws are used to protect works of visual art, websites, books, music, video/board games, literary works, film, software, sculpture and even architectural drawings. The copyright laws were designed to protect the expression of an original work of authorship. A copyright entitles the author to prevent others from unauthorized reproduction, distribution, display, performance, and creation of derivative works from the original copyrighted work.
There are protections under law for unregistered copyrights, but there is a difference between a registered copyright and an unregistered copyright. Initially, a copyright comes into existence automatically from the moment an author “reduces the work to a tangible medium of expression.” In other words, copyright exists the moment when the work is created. For a painter, this could be when brush is put to canvas. For a photographer, this could be when the photographer takes the photo. Registration is merely the process of submitting copies of the work of art to the United States Copyright office with appropriate forms filled out for registration. It is preferable to have a registered copyright as opposed to an unregistered copyright for a variety of reasons. These include the availability of statutory damages and an enhanced likelihood of recovering attorney’s fees from pursuing infringers.
They can be the same in some instances. However, counterfeit is a term that is usually reserved for the most egregious forms of copyright infringement. Copyright infringement, on the other hand, is not necessarily counterfeiting. Counterfeit refers to fakes and usually involves placement of counterfeit marks on goods. Copyright infringement means there could just be a “substantial similarity” between the works of the plaintiff and defendant. In most cases, copyright infringement is a civil matter handled in federal court, whereas a counterfeit case can involve civil or criminal justice systems.
You should contact an attorney immediately who is familiar with copyright infringement litigation. If you have a litigation matter, do not hesitate to contact our firm for a free consultation. Do not contact the person who sent you the letter or filed the lawsuit without having suitable representation.
The primary issue is whether the defendants work is “substantially similar” to the work of the plaintiff. In many cases, there may be questions as to the true authorship and originality of an alleged copyrighted work. There are usually important issues about whether the defendant had access to the plaintiff’s alleged copyright work and whether infringement was willful—which can trigger enhanced damages. Assuming there is a clear-cut case of liability for copyright infringement, there can still be a variety of issues regarding the proper measure of damages.
If a work has been specifically commissioned for one person or business, it may be what is known in copyright law as a “work for hire.” In the case of a work for hire, ownership of the copyright will actually rest with the hiring party instead of the author of the work, so it is important to clarify business relationships. A work that is created by an employee in the course and scope of employment will also usually belong to the employer.
If you need to commission a work of art, website, engineering drawings, or if you are being asked to sign a work for hire agreement, you should consult with an attorney familiar with copyright law so that you understand your rights. Work for hire laws will apply to all sorts of creative specialties such as website designers, graphic artists, photographers, and computer programmers who develop code.