Most people have seen a copyright symbol on their favorite book, music recording, computer program or photo. Copyrights give the author or creator of the work exclusive rights over his or her original work.
Copyright protections and disputes
Copyrights can protect a wide-range of work. They also apply to reproducing the work, preparing derivative works based on the original item, distributing copies or recordings of the work to the public, performing the work publicly and displaying the work publicly.
Disputes often occur when there are competing claims of ownership to the copyright. Generally, the person who creates the work owns the copyright, however there are exceptions businesses may not be aware of.
Employers may own the copyright of work their employee creates within the scope of that person’s employment, a person who hires a freelancer to create work may be considered the author and owner of the copyright and a copyright can also be obtained if the author assigns it in writing.
It’s important to register the copyright with the Copyright Office of the Library of Congress. This can be completed by submitting an application to the registrar along with a fee.
Usually, the copyright must be registered before the owner can file a lawsuit to enforce the copyright. Copyright infringement claims are brought in federal court and if successful, creators can recover damages or pursue injunctive relief.
Once a current copyright is in place, the protection lasts for the author or creator’s life plus 70 years. Other protection timelines may apply, depending on the work as well. An intellectual property attorney can help businesses pursue copyrights.