What is Copyright?

Copyrights protect the creative expression embodied within a work that has been fixed in a tangible medium of expression. Protected works can consist of text, software, artwork, movies, graphics, photographs, movies, books, jewelry, nonfunctional designs of useful articles, music and more. Only the creative expression within a work is protected; the idea underlying the work is not protected.

The owner of a copyright has the exclusive rights to copy, distribute, modify, publicly perform and publicly display the work. Certain exceptions, exemptions and defenses exist.

Generally speaking the author of the work is the owner of the copyrights in the work. However, special rules apply to employer/employee situations and independent contractor situations. Ownership can also be modified by written agreement or other disposition.

Copyright notices are not required any longer, but are recommended.

Copyrightable works may be registered with the U .S. Copyright Office. Registration is not required, but offers significant advantages for very little expense. In some areas of the country, copyright registration is required before you can file a lawsuit.

To prove infringement, one must show either: evidence of actual copying OR access and substantial similarity.

How can we help?

Here’s a glimpse of our experience in the field:

  • We’ve represented the copyright interests of one of the most famous author’s estates in the world;
  • We’ve unraveled ancient agreements entered into by musicians who negotiated bad deals under pre-1978 copyright law;
  • We’ve deposited our clients’ work with the Writer’s Guild and advised clients how to better protect their ideas and works of authorship
  • We also can provide advice in defending infringement claims.