Copyrights - An overview by Copyright Attorneys

US Copyright Protection:

The framers of the Constitution of the United States of America gave Congress the power:

One exercise of this power resulted in US copyright law, which gives certain rights to the author of a work, so long as the work has at least a minimal amount of original creative expression.

Some of the kinds of works that may be protected by copyrights include literary works, musical works, dramatic works, choreographic works, pictorial, graphic and sculptural works, audiovisual works, architectural works, and sound recordings. In the United States, any qualifying work created after January 1, 1978 is automatically copyrighted. However, a formal registration of the copyright is necessary in order for a copyright owner to bring a lawsuit for copyright infringement.

The owner of a copyright has the following exclusive rights (and the ability to prevent others from doing these things without permission):

Certain rights of attribution and integrity are also given to authors of works of visual art.

The US Copyright Office (which is part of the Library of Congress) allows for copyright applications to be filed on-line at The on-line application process is relatively straightforward and inexpensive, and is designed to allow authors to submit copyright applications themselves.

Copyright Enforcement: 

Copyright disputes arise when there is a contention over the unauthorized use or reproduction of original works, be it literature, music, art, or other creative expressions. Enforcement efforts are crucial to protect the value of one's copyright material as distribution and publication of infringing copies can happen quickly and widely in the digital age.  Registration of copyright is a crucial step in enforcement.  A cease and desist letter can be sent without a copyright registration.  However, a complaint for copyright infringement cannot be filed until a copyright registration has been granted by the US copyright office.  Copyright registration should be pursued in order to establish all available remedies for copyright infringement, including statutory damages.  If infringement occurs prior to registration, the registrant may lose the ability to pursue statutory damages, which is a powerful remedy.  Copyright registrants can also pursue actual damages and an injunction, which is a court order requiring the infringer to stop its infringing activities. Copyright claims are handled exclusively in federal court.

Copyright Licensing:

At its core, licensing serves as a contractual arrangement wherein the copyright holder, often referred to as the licensor, grants permission to another entity, the licensee, to utilize the copyrighted work in specific ways delineated within the agreement. This can encompass a range of activities, from reproduction and distribution to public performance and adaptation. Such licenses can be exclusive, granting rights to a singular licensee, or non-exclusive, permitting multiple entities to utilize the work concurrently. The temporal dimensions of the license, its territorial scope, and any financial considerations, such as royalties, are meticulously defined within the agreement. Through this intricate dance of rights and permissions, copyright licensing ensures that intellectual creations can be shared, adapted, and celebrated, all while respecting the original creator's autonomy and the intrinsic value of their work.

Differences between copyrights from patent or trademark:

A patent provides protection for an invention and a trademark. A distinctive word, phrase, image, and/or other element of goods and/or to identify the source; services. Please visit our patents page and our trademark page for more information.

Contact Sierra IP Law for a free consultation with our experienced copyright attorneys.

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