Copyright Protection

"What  is a copyright? I think I need to get a copyright on a work I just created. What do I do? Can I copy someone else's publication and distribute it to those at my company without infringing that person's  copyright? Who owns the copyright on something created at work, the  company or the employee?"

A copyright is a form of protection provided to works of authorship that give the owner the exclusive right  to do certain things with it. This includes the right to reproduce or copy the work, make derivatives of the work, distribute copies of the work or to perform or publicly display the work.

Copyrightable  works created in the U.S. are protected under copyright laws as soon as  they are fixed in a tangible medium. The publication or registration of  the work is not required to qualify for copyright protection. You may  want to provide a copyright notice on your published works, however, to  give notice of your copyright in the work and to prevent a claim of  innocent infringement.

Copyright registration of your work  provides many advantages, however.   In particular, it allows one to claim  statutory damages when actual damages are negligible or hard to prove.  A copyright registration  can provide proof of ownership and the validity of your copyright.

Issues of copyright ownership arise in business frequently.  If one is not careful, one can find themselves unable to move forward in their business because of copyright issues. This is often the case in situations where one believes they own the copyright in a work they were paying someone else to create, but where it actually ends up being owned by the one that created it.  This typically comes up in a situation where one hires an independent contractor to perform a job that  involves the creation of copyrightable works.  If no agreement exists that provides otherwise, you may find that you are authorized to use the copies provided by the one you hired without the ability to make additional copies of the work or to modify it.

These are just  some of the issues and questions related to copyrights that might indicate that you need to consult an intellectual property specialist.   Contact us for a free consultation.  

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