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Has Your Copyright Been Infringed? The Answer May Not Be as Simple as You Think

Has Your Copyright Been Infringed? The Answer May Not Be as Simple as You Think

When a person creates a work from their own ideas and uses their own vision to complete it, they want to protect it from being used by or attributed to someone else. This is not difficult to understand and it is why copyright exists. Many people think of copyright law involving just musicians, artists, and writers, but in fact many companies of all sizes and types are covered by copyright laws.

That said, at Law Offices of Torrence L. Howell we find that many companies do not have a thorough understanding of these laws, how they impact their own intellectual property, and what can be done if their copyright is infringed. Read on to get answers to these tough questions. Then contact us at (909) 920-0908 to get answers to your business law questions.

The types of work covered by copyright laws

According to U.S. copyright laws, literary, theatrical, musical, choreographic, motion picture, and audio-visual works are protected. Title 17 of the U.S. Code, which governs most of the copyright issues in the United States, also includes architectural works, software code, and engineering designs. In order for any of these described things to be covered, they must be fixed, which means that they must be fixed in a way that is capable of being reproduced.

The types of work not covered by copyright laws

On the other hand, specific types of work cannot be copyrighted. This includes common property (for example, a chart or calendar), typography, symbols, contents lists, procedures, works in the public domain, and processes. Certain things that a person may think should be covered by copyright are actually covered by trademark law, such as names and slogans.

Registered vs. not registered

You may have heard that a work is copyrighted automatically when it is published and that it is not necessary formally file a copyright. This is partially true. Common law copyright does take effect as soon as something is published. However, it does not have the same level of protection as a federally registered copyright does. For example, if your copyright is infringed and you want to file a lawsuit for statutory damages, the work must have a federal registration on file.

Infringement can be up to interpretation

If a person or company blatantly copies your work then it may be obvious. However, this is not the most common way in which copyright is infringed. Instead, there are often instances in which large parts of a work are reproduced. Think, for example, of a song melody that is used within the structure of a different song. It is the job of the judge to determine if the works are similar enough in whole to involve an issue with copyright infringement.

Contact us today if you have questions about copyright law

If you have reason to believe that your copyright has been infringed on, or if you want to ensure that you have legal recourse if it ever is infringed on, then you should contact Law Offices of Torrence L. Howell at (909) 920-0908 as soon as possible.


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