Copyright is a type of intellectual property that protects original works of authorship fixed in a tangible medium of expression.
Copyright protects original works of authorship fixed in a tangible medium of expression such as a writing, sculpture, painting, architecture, or music. Copyright protects published and unpublished works, but it does not protect ideas, facts, systems or methods of operation.
Copyright protection arises automatically so long as specific legal requirements are met. To obtain copyright protection, the law requires that the “work of authorship” is “original,” “fixed in some tangible form,” and consists of an “expression.”
Usually, copyright belongs to the individual who is responsible for the creative content of a work. Sometimes, however, groups, rather than individuals, produce copyrightable works, and issues of ownership are not so easily resolved. In situations involving multiple parties, whether a work is considered collaborative or is produced by employees and others who are hired or commissioned to produce the works (“work for hire”), ultimately dictates who is considered the copyright owner.
Nouveau Law LLC can review any arrangements, counsel you on your rights, and assist in drafting agreements or contracts to ensure that ownership is clearly understood among parties and your rights are fully protected.
A copyright owner has certain exclusive rights to their copyrighted work including: the right to reproduce their work; the right to distribute their work; and, the right to publicly perform or display their work. Because these rights are exclusive, anyone who exercises them without the copyright owner’s permission may be liable for infringement to the copyright owner. Nouveau Law LLC can assist you in understanding your rights as well as drafting and negotiating licensing agreements pertaining to such rights.
While Nouveau Law LLC is a transactional firm and does not litigate infringement claims, we are able to provide guidance and legal counsel as to the best ways to prevent infringement and minimize exposure to future litigation. If you do in-fact believe that you have a valid infringement claim, we are also happy to refer you to another attorney who litigates such suits.
The term of a copyright is generally the life of the author plus an additional 70 years. If the copyright is owned by a corporation or similar entity, the life of a copyright is 120 years from the day the work is created or 95 years from the day that the work was published—whichever occurs first.
While registering a copyrightable work is not necessary to secure a valid copyright, registration has significant benefits. Some of these benefits include: establishing a public record of the copyright; permitting for statutory damages and attorney’s fees in the case of a successful litigation; and if work is registered within five years of publication, it is considered prima facie evidence in a court of law.
Nouveau Law can counsel you on the benefits of copyright and handle the entire application process to register qualifying work.
Generally, yes. Obtaining consent from a copyright owner prior to use is always a good idea. Using a copyright owner’s work without permission may be considered infringement, and you may be liable.
Importantly, however, while a copyright owner has a number of exclusive rights, a copyright owner also has the right to authorize or consent to certain acts in connection with their copyrighted work. Consent is generally given through permissions or licensing contracts.
Nouveau Law LLC can draft, review, and negotiate permissions and licenses pertaining to the use of copyrights to ensure that copyright owners or those who wish to use a copyrighted work are fully protected.
No. Copyright protects original works of authorship. A patent, on the other hand, protects inventions or discoveries. Copyright law does not protect ideas and discoveries that are protected under patent law; however, the way in which ideas and discoveries are expressed may be protected under copyright law. Trademarks are fundamentally different from copyright in that a trademark protects words, phrases, symbols, or designs that identify the source of the goods or services and is used to distinguish them from those of others.