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Copyright Lawyer in California

Intellectual property is critical in today's competitive market, and yet advancements in this digital age make it easier than ever to violate intellectual property rights. That's especially true for anything you write or produce. Whether as an individual or an entity – your written creations risk copyright infringement if not protected. Violators can easily find material online and use it as their own to profit from it. It is important to protect your original work, and the most important and effective means of protection is copyright registration.

At Law Office of Aletha J. Smith, PC, our Nationwide copyright protection lawyer handles all types of copyright matters and will help you understand what the benefits are and how to continue or expand the protection of your intellectual property. Contact us today at (909) 222-6680 to schedule a Copyright Consultation. 

Overview of Copyright Law

A copyright gives an author of an original work exclusive rights to their work, including the right to control and protect it. Copyrights cover a wide variety of different subject matters. 

Elements of a Copyright

Qualifying for a copyright is not very difficult. There are certain elements that must be met, including originality. The work cannot be a copy of anything else. Copyrights must also be tangible and at least a little creative. In other words, an idea cannot be copyrighted, but a written work can be.  

What Can Be Copyrighted

Original works of authorship can be copyrighted, including:

  • Books & E-Books
  • Music
  • Lyrics
  • Graphics
  • Literature
  • Videos
  • Movies
  • Sculptures
  • Novels
  • Architectural Works
  • Website Content
  • Podcast Recordings
  • Speeches
  • Presentations
  • Webinars
  • Choreography

Slogans, symbols, and designs cannot be copyrighted. 

The Rights a Copyright Provides

When the owner of a work copyrights it, they have the exclusive rights to: 

  • Reproduce the work in copies
  • Prepare derivative works based upon the work
  • Distribute copies of the work to the public 
  • Display the work publicly
  • Perform the work publicly
  • Sell the work

So, if the work is a play, the copyright owner can perform it; if it is a movie, the owner can show it.

Copyright owners can also authorize others to exercise the rights given to them by the copyright. 

Copyright Registration

Contrary to popular belief, copyright registration is not mandatory.  However, to best protect your intellectual property, you should register a copyright for it. The benefits of copyright registration are many and the process does not have to be complicated with a copyright lawyer in California guiding and advising you.

Benefits of Copyright Registration

One of the benefits of copyright registration is that it establishes evidence that the work has an owner on record. Also, should another party attempt to infringe on the copyright, the fact the copyright is registered allows the owner to bring a lawsuit against the infringing party (a rejected application may be used for the same purpose). 

If the copyright owner wants to seek statutory damages and attorney's fees in an infringement case, registration after publication or before the infringement occurs allows them to do so. 

Copyright Registration Process

The registration process can typically be completed online. Some works may be submitted electronically, yet others must have a hard copy, which will not be returned. 

Keep in mind, copyright information is public record and time limits apply as to when the registration must be filed.

Our copyright attorney at Law Office of Aletha J. Smith, PC will ensure the copyright registration process in California is undertaken properly and timely to ensure you receive maximum benefits. 

Common Copyright Issues

Many challenges may arise with or throughout the copyright process. To provide context as to why it's important to seek legal counsel for copyright protection specifically and any intellectual property generally, some of the most common issues in the copyright process are briefly described below. 

Ownership Issues

Often, disagreements arise over who actually owns the copyright. 

A common example of this issue involves employee/employer situations. For example, if a person created original work that is copyrighted while in the employment of a company, then the company may own the copyright to the work. The opposite is typically true when the person creating the work is a freelancer. Many times this problem can be solved by reviewing relevant contracts, which hopefully address these matters and spell out who has a right to what. Without relevant terms and conditions in a contract, this issue becomes more problematic.

Time Limit on Copyrights

Many people fail to understand just how long copyright protects the original work. In most cases, it lasts for the life of the author (or creator) plus seventy years. This time limit varies based on the type of medium being copyrighted, so it is always best to confirm and not just assume how long a copyright lasts.  

Fair Use Exception

The Fair Use exception to copyright is often overlooked or not properly understood. It holds that copyrighted materials may be used under certain conditions. The type of original work and the way it is being used are both considered under the Fair Use exception. 

Common examples of when copyrighted materials may be used under this exception include:

  • Teaching purposes
  • Reporting the news
  • Conducting research
  • Providing criticism

Copyright Infringement 

Copyright infringement occurs when any person or entity violates the rights of the copyright owner. For example, if someone reproduces, performs, or displays a copyrighted work without the permission of the copyright owner, they have committed copyright infringement. To be guilty of copyright infringement, the person or entity that commits the infringement does not have to be seeking monetary gain. 

Proving Copyright Infringement 

Anyone that claims their copyright has been infringed upon must be able to prove that they are the owner of the copyrighted material and that their rights as such have been violated. They must also be able to show that the person or entity that violated their rights exceeded the fair use doctrine, which allows the use of copyrighted materials in certain situations and under certain conditions. 

Remedies for Copyright Infringement

Injunctions are the most commonly sought remedy by victims of copyright infringement. An injunction serves to stop the infringing party from continuing to violate the copyright. Permanent injunctions prevent the infringing party from ever engaging in the infringement again. 

Other civil and criminal remedies may be available in California to parties who have had their copyright infringed. It all depends on the facts and circumstances.

Contact a Nationwide Intellectual Property Attorney Today

At Law Office of Aletha J. Smith, PC, our copyright protection lawyer located in Rancho Cucamonga California helps our clients, nationwide, obtain and maintain protection for their original works. You may be a business or an individual; in either case, your original work should benefit you, not someone else who attempts to use your work for their own benefit. Contact us today to schedule a Copyright Consultation.

Contact Us Today

Law Office of Aletha J. Smith, PC is committed to empowering individuals to protect their business, intellectual property, family and estate. Contact us about Business Law, Trademarks, Estate Planning, and Prenuptial Agreements in California and beyond.

***We offer a free 30-minute consultation for family law and estate planning. There is a $100.00 consultation fee for all business, copyright and trademark consultations. We will gladly discuss your matter with you at your convenience. Contact us today to schedule an appointment.

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