We offer the following copyright services:
-preparation and filing of applications for copyright registration with the U.S. Copyright Office;
-filing of copyright related agreements for recordation;
-protection of copyright owner’s rights;
-representation of plaintiffs and defendants in copyright infringement in copyright infringement litigation;
-drafting and negotiating copyright related agreements (assignment of copyrights, copyright licenses, joint ownership of copyrights and etc.).
Frequently asked questions about copyrights:
How can I copyright my idea?
Copyright law doesn’t protect ideas. (You might be thinking of patents, which protect inventions.)
So what does copyright law protect?
Copyright law protects “works of authorship” which are “fixed in a tangible medium of expression.”
“Works of authorship” include literary, dramatic, musical, and artistic works, such as:
• Short stories
• Newspaper and magazine articles
• Blogs and other web content
• Movies and videos
• Paintings, drawings, and sculptures
• Musicals and Operas
Computer software (code) and architectural drawings (and the buildings produced from those drawings) are also protected by copyright law.
“Fixed in a tangible medium” means that the work is recorded in some manner. This could be on paper, on film, on video, on a computer hard drive or flash drive, on a DVD or CD, etc.
An improvised work (such as an impromptu speech or a jazz riff) is not protected by copyright unless and until it is “fixed” in some way.
Do I need to register my copyright?
No and yes.
Your work is protected by copyright law from the moment it is fixed in a tangible medium.
However, if you want to sue someone for infringing your work, you need to register it first. So copyright “protection” doesn’t really have any “teeth” until you register.
Registration also provides other advantages:
• It provides a public record of your claim of authorship.
• If the registration is made within five years of the work’s publication, it’s considered prima facie evidence of the validity of the copyright and the facts stated in the registration (such as the identity of the author). This makes it harder for someone else to prove you aren’t the author.
• If the registration is made within three months after the work is published, or before infringement, the copyright owner can seek statutory damages and attorney’s fees. (Statutory damages range from $750 to $30,000, or up to $150,000 if the infringement is willful. If statutory damages aren’t available, then the copyright owner will have to prove “actual” damages, which can be much harder – plus the amount may be smaller.)
• The copyright owner can record the registration with the US Customs Service to protect against imports of infringing copies of the work.
So how do I register a copyright?
You can ask your lawyer to do it for you, or you can do it yourself.
You fill out a short form (online or on paper), you pay a fee ($35 online, $65 on paper), and you send them to the Copyright Office along with one copy (if the work is unpublished) or two copies (if the work is published) of the work you want to register. (You don’t get the copy back, so don’t send your only one!)
It takes several months for your application to be processed, but the effective date of registration will be the date your application was received by the Copyright Office.
Do I need to use the © symbol in order to have a copyright?
No. That used to be a requirement but not anymore.
However, use of a copyright notice is still a good idea. It tells people that the work is protected by copyright and might discourage some people from infringing.
If there’s a copyright notice on your work, a court won’t believe an infringer who claims “innocent infringement” (and this will make it easier for you to win an infringement lawsuit).
You don’t need to use the © symbol to indicate copyright protection. You can just use the word “Copyright” or the abbreviation “Copr.”
You also need to include the year of first publication and the name of the copyright owner. Just putting © by itself isn’t enough.
You don’t need to register your work with the Copyright Office in order to use the © symbol.
If you have questions about copyright law, or want us to register a copyright for you, please contact us at 1 310 461-3776.