What is a Copyright Lawyer?
Intellectual property law refers to a broad category of laws that are designed to protect and enforce the rights of creators and their artistic works or inventions. Intellectual property law can be further divided into smaller subcategories of law. One of those subcategories includes copyright laws.
Copyright laws grant creators (e.g., authors, artists, songwriters, etc.) exclusive rights to own, use, and prevent others from using their work without permission. Thus, a copyright lawyer is a specialized kind of intellectual property lawyer who helps individuals secure copyrights to protect their artistic works.
Copyright lawyers serve two primary functions. The first is that they can assist you with the overall application process required to register for a copyright, including preparing, completing, and filing the necessary forms. The second is that they can provide litigation services for copyright infringement matters, such as if you need to sue an unauthorized individual for plagiarizing your work.Other Helpful Resources:
What Are Some Common Copyright Disputes and Violations?
According to the U.S. Copyright Act of 1976, an individual who registers and obtains a copyright in their work will be granted six exclusive rights. These rights tend to form the basis of most copyright disputes. For instance, if an unauthorized person violates one or more of the six exclusive rights, the copyright holder will generally have grounds to sue.
One issue that frequently arises in connection with copyright infringement lawsuits is the act of piracy. Piracy refers to the unauthorized act of selling, copying, and/or distributing copyrighted works. For example, a person who illegally uploads or downloads music on a peer-to-peer file sharing network (e.g., Napster) is committing an act of piracy.
Another common example of a copyright violation occurs when an author plagiarizes a large portion of a copyrighted work and attempts to sell it for personal gain. For instance, if an author writes a novel that contains all the same elements as a different novel that has already been published and only changes the name of the characters, the original author can sue the second author for plagiarism.Other Helpful Resources:
How Can a Copyright Attorney Help with A Copyright Issue?
Copyright attorneys can assist with many different kinds of copyright issues. A copyright attorney may be hired by a business or an individual to provide advice about copyright laws, settle a copyright dispute, answer a specific legal question, or to ensure that they are in compliance with the law.
For example, a major problem with copyrights is that they expire after a certain amount of years. Recently, the law was amended to remedy this issue. The update, however, resulted in more confusion than clarity. Thus, many businesses and individuals have hired lawyers to make sure that their works are still receiving protection under the new law, and if not, are asking them for help with the copyright extension process.
A copyright attorney can also inform a client when a particular work is not original enough to claim a copyright on it, assist them in proving lost sales due to a violation in an infringement case, and determine whether a work falls under a complex copyright regulation known as the “Fair Use Doctrine.”
What Do Copyright Lawyers Do?
As previously mentioned, a copyright lawyer ensures that a copyrighted work is protected from infringement issues and that no one other than the author or an authorized person uses that work. Aside from assisting clients with registering for a copyright, a copyright lawyer can also provide representation in court.
For example, a copyright lawyer may be hired to defend someone who has been accused of plagiarizing a copyrighted work like a play or movie. Alternatively, a copyright lawyer can also help a person whose copyrighted play or movie has been plagiarized by someone else without their permission.
A copyright lawyer may also be hired by a business to litigate infringement issues or to provide general guidance on copyright laws. For instance, a business may hire a copyright attorney to perform due diligence on specific material to determine whether they may use it for their own company or if using the material would violate existing copyright laws.
In addition, a copyright lawyer can also settle disputes over joint authorship issues and analyze whether a work is eligible to receive copyright protections.
Do You Need to Hire a Copyright Lawyer?
If you need assistance with the copyright registration process or believe that you have a claim for copyright infringement, then you should contact a local copyright lawyer immediately for further legal guidance.
An experienced copyright lawyer will be able to advise you on either issue, including how to navigate the separate legal procedures and complete the proper requirements for both. Your lawyer can also make sure that you meet all the applicable filing deadlines as well.
In addition, your lawyer can conduct research on a regular basis to ensure that no one else is using your work without your permission or infringing on your rights. If you or your lawyer discovers an issue, your lawyer can help you take legal action against the offender and provide representation in court.