Our Copyright Attorneys Understand the Importance Copyright Laws to Creative Individuals
Copyright Law Reflects Deep-Rooted American Beliefs
Copyright law in the United States dates back to the 1700s. The United States Constitution gave Congress the power to “promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries.”
In other words, our founding fathers believed that the authors and creators of original works should reap the benefits of their labor for a specified period and aimed to encourage them to create more work to share with the public. While laws regarding ownership of work have evolved and changed throughout the years, the values we place on individually designed work have not.
The premise that authors, photographers, and artists should have control over their work, and the terms of its use, remains a firm principal in our society. Copyright laws have evolved to reflect changing technology, media-sharing, and creative professions, all of which can complicate intellectual property ownership. The central belief, however, that ownership and control belong to the creator of the work remains intact.
If you are a photographer, author, graphic artist, computer coder, or another uniquely creative individual, make sure you protect your copyright by calling the Liebowitz Law Firm, PLLC. Our copyright lawyers can negotiate licensing agreements that give you the compensation and control you desire and enforce your rights when someone violates your copyright or license.
Meeting the Requirements for a Copyright
There are three essential requirements that work must meet to be protected by copyright law. The work must be:
- Original: An original work is something independently created. You may not copy it from something else.
- Creative: Something is creative if it demonstrates a small amount of creativity. Creativity is given an inclusive definition in this context and very few things are deemed not creative enough to satisfy this requirement.
- Fixed: To be “fixed” means that the work must be in a tangible form of expression. The moment it is fixed, copyright protection exists. The work must be stable or permanent enough to allow it to be “perceived, reproduced or otherwise communicated for a period of more than transitory duration.”
If your work meets these criteria, your copyright exists automatically. You should consider filing your copyright with the U.S. copyright office which can help in the future if you have a dispute.
What is Copyright?
Once you meet the requirements for copyright, what does it mean for you?
A copyright is a collection of rights that automatically vest to someone who creates an original work of authorship. Authorship includes books, songs, photographs, poetry, and more. Your copyright typically means that you have the exclusive right to:
- reproduce the work
- prepare derivative works
- distribute copies of the work
- perform the work
- display the work to the public
Copyright Law Protects You and Your Work
Copyright law ensures that you decide what happens to your work. You can keep exclusive control over your work if you choose. Perhaps more importantly, copyright law allows you to grant permission or a license for others to use your work. In this way, you earn money from your work while retaining some control over:
- Who or what uses your copyrighted work
- How your copyrighted work gets used
- How much compensation you will receive
- The duration of your permission
- Where your work is used
As the creator of copyrighted work, you may fashion a license agreement under any agreed upon terms. Consider the following hypothetical:
You are a photographer who captured a beautiful photograph of a mother and child. A movie producer is interested in using your copyrighted image, in an enlarged size, in the background of a scene in a film. What are your options as the holder of the copyright?
- You can allow the producer to use your photograph for any purpose, without compensation, forever.
- You can draft an agreement allowing the producer to use the photograph in two scenes in the movie, but the image may not be bigger than 11×16, and you will receive $10,000.
- You may agree to let the producer use the photograph in this movie only, at his discretion, but you will receive $10,000 each time the entire photograph or a section of it is displayed in the final cut of the film.
- You can say no.
- You can grant a license to the producer that allows him to use the photograph at will for two years from the date of the agreement for a lump sum payment of $50,000.
Why You Need an Experienced Copyright Lawyer
Copyright seems simple. You make something, you own it, and no one else can use it without your permission and/or agreed upon terms of compensation. But, in today’s world of social media, file sharing, e-commerce, and digital music, it can be challenging to keep track of who is using your work and how. Courts continue to interpret ownership and fair use, and it is more important than ever that you take your copyright seriously.
You will want professional, experienced representation from lawyers who understand the importance of your copyright and can negotiate licensing agreements that will ensure you receive fair compensation.
Contact Us to Discuss Your Copyright Violation Case
If you think someone is using your original work without your permission, or in a way that is violating the terms of your agreement, contact our copyright lawyers immediately.
At Liebowitz Law Firm, PLLC our experienced copyright infringement lawyers have been helping writers, photographers, and other creative individuals collect compensation when someone violates their rights. We represent clients across the globe and can help you collect fair compensation for your work. Call us today at (800) 778-1660 for a free evaluation of your copyright infringement case.