The protection of their work is a common concern for creators. Their minds frequently wander to thoughts of plagiarism or original work being duplicated. It might occur to you as well. So, you need to know how you can protect your rights as a creator.
This article aims to increase your understanding of your rights as a creator and to assist you in defending and protecting your creative work against copyright violation.
What is Copyright?
Copyright is a set of “exclusive” rights that allow authors to limit how their work is used and to profit from it. According to copyright law, the term “exclusive” designates the power of the copyright owner to prohibit anyone from utilizing his or her creations without first obtaining consent. Copyright allows creators to be compensated for their work, which promotes the creation of songs, movies, books, and other forms of artistic expression. The creation and transmission of knowledge is the ultimate objective of copyright. Hence, finding a balance between preserving creative works and allowing for public use, is one of the most difficult objectives of copyright.
The following are some important copyright facts you need to know:
- Copyright typically lasts for the author’s lifetime plus an additional 70 years. After that, the work enters the public domain and can be freely used again without the copyright owner’s consent.
- Original literary, dramatic, musical, and creative works as well as sound recordings, films, broadcasts, and the layout of printed materials are all under copyright protection.
- For copyright protection, the work typically needs to be recorded or preserved in a permanent or fixed form.
- In terms of law, copyright law is territorial in nature. Therefore the regulations that matter are the ones that apply to your own nation. More so, copyright law is settled and does not change.
- Copyright lawyers can help you get copyright for your creative work. They can also help you deal with people infringing on your copyrighted creative work.
In order to take advantage of copyright, your work must be original. To ensure that your work is original, you must have applied your own expertise, labor, judgment, and effort. It needs to be in a fixed form and on a pertinent medium.
Steps Required To Copyright Your Creative Work with Copyright Law
Copyright treats creative works as a specific sort of property known as intellectual property.
The advantages of copyright protection are manifold. Copyright law aids in preserving an individual’s/group’s ownership of new works they produce, such as poems, books, paintings, or photographs. Below are steps required to protect your creative work with copyright law.
1. Create Your Own Work
The legal rights related to copyright become active in the majority of nations, as soon as you produce something in a tangible form. This could be a creative work that someone can see, hear, or touch. In case your claim to the rights is contested, you should keep a record or other evidence of the date your work was created.
2. Ask Your Independent Contractors to Sign Agreements
Any rights workers may otherwise have as an “author” are immediately transferred to the business as “work created for hire” under copyright law. This is applicable if they contributed to the creation of the work as part of their job responsibilities. Having your employee’s signature in a document stating that your business owns all intellectual property rights to any products they make while on the job is still a smart idea.
The law treats contract workers (such as consultants) differently when it pertains to copyright. A contractor retains the IP rights to any creative work that he, as a non employee, does for your business. However, your business can retain the right if there is a written agreement that explicitly states that the work is “work created for hire”. You should ensure that all service agreements and engagement letters with contractors and consultants who produce software, websites, prototypes, advertisements, reports, or manuals for your business have work-for-hire terms.
3. Incorporate a Copyright Notice into Your Work
A copyright notice on your company’s work is helpful. It notifies everyone that you consider the work to be copyrighted. This prevents potential infringers from convincing a judge that duplicating your work was an honest error. The following three components must be included in copyright notices, which should be put in a visible location on the work:
- The character “©”, the phrase “Copyright,” or the initials “Copr.”
- The year that the work was initially released.
- Name of the author or creator.
“All rights reserved” is an optional phrase.
4. Register Your Work
It’s always a good idea to register your company’s significant copyrighted assets with the U. S. Copyright Office. A completed application form, a non-refundable filing fee, a non-refundable deposit, and a copy or copies of the work being registered with the Copyright Office are all necessary for registration. There are regulations for deleting sensitive information from the copy that will be deposited. This might be required if you are registering software code that contains trade secrets or other sensitive information. The Copyright Office’s eCO system can be used to register for a copyright by mail or online.
Your business can benefit from copyright registration in various ways:
- It presents to the world a record of your copyright claim.
- It enables you to file a legal claim for infringement.
- A court will assume that the copyright is legitimate if it is lodged within five years of the registration of your work.
- The U.S. Copyright Act allows for automatic damages for infringement. This means you don’t need to establish damages and the payment of your attorneys’ fees isn’t needed.
5. Employ The Services of a Copyright Lawyer
If your rights are infringed after copyright registration, you can sue. To pursue legal action for copyright law infringement, you need a copyright attorney. A good lawyer for copyright will help you get remedies for direct and indirect infringement. These remedies could include monetary damages in the form of actual losses or statutory damages.
The Role of a Copyright Lawyer in Protecting Your Creative Work
A lawyer with knowledge of intellectual property laws in the area of copyright is called a copyright lawyer. Copyright attorneys help you by giving guidance during the registration process of your work. In the event that another person or business steals your work, the attorneys can help you file lawsuits and make strong arguments on your behalf. They also aid in creating letters and legal conclusions.
A copyright attorney aids in the enforcement of laws to protect their clients’ intellectual works from numerous infractions. The following is a list of the duties and obligations of a copyright attorney.
- Inform the court on the progress of petitions and give orders.
- Prepare applications and responses in collaboration with in-house lawyers so that they serve the client’s needs.
- Manage cases by speaking with witnesses, studying court records, overseeing attorneys, and collaborating with document gathering efforts.
- Maintain legal statement records and papers, such as articles of incorporation, shareholder agreements, corporate governance, trademark registration, etc.
- Help clients prepare and record their arguments for court hearings.
The protection of your work by copyright law relies on a number of variables. It’s crucial to keep in mind that copyright only safeguards ideas’ expression and not their content. For instance, this means that if you paint a scene, another person can still take a photo of the same landscape. Additionally, it means that even though George Orwell’s Animal Farm is copyrighted, you are still permitted to create your own tale of animals and their relationship with a human farmer. Although, your work has to be significantly different from the source material and thus original.