There are certain categories of individuals who should be interested in ensuring that others do not wrongfully profit from their original ideas, including inventors, scientists, and artists. The legal system provides these categories of individuals with some protections for their intellectual property.
The purpose of these intellectual property laws is to encourage new technologies and ideas, artistic creativity, and inventions for the growth of the economy with the confidence that their creative ideas and works will be protected.
These types of laws protect things and ideas that do not take on a physical form, which may include:
- Names and logos associated with products; and
- Original works.
Because these things cannot be physically possessed, the laws that apply to personal property do not apply to intellectual property. Because of this, intellectual property laws protect the rights to reproduce or use the intellectual property rather than the possession of it.
In most cases, the first creator or inventor is the owner of the intellectual property. There are some employers, however, that provide in their employment contracts that the employer owns anything that the employee creates on the job.
An individual can temporarily give away their rights to their intellectual property using a licensing agreement.
What is Intellectual Property?
Intellectual property, or IP, includes broad property rights that are vested in the intangible. Forms of intellectual property include:
- Patents; and
An individual can work with an intellectual property attorney in order to protect their work. This also provides peace of mind that their work will not be copied or used by another individual or entity without providing them compensation.
What is Copyright?
Copyrights prevent other individuals or entities from using an originally authored work. Items or works to be copyrighted must be originals and cannot be reproductions or copies of property that is already copyrighted.
Pursuant to federal copyright laws, copyrights entitle owners to many exclusive rights, including the rights to:
- Reproduce the copyrighted work;
- Distribute copies of the work that is copyrighted to the public for sale;
- Perform the copyrighted work;
- Rights to produce a license that are derived from other copyright materials; and
- Licensing rights to manufacture and make a product.
What are the Different Types of Copyrighted Works?
A copyright may be used to protect numerous forms of creative works, including:
- Recorded or sheet music;
- Books and novels;
- Software codes, video games, and CD-ROMs;
- These, however, may not be protected if they have already been distributed through a copyleft agreement; and
- Art, such as:
- dance choreography; and
What is Copyright Protection?
Pursuant to federal laws, an individual obtains a copyright to their work automatically once they have fixed their work in a “tangible medium of expression.” the individual must have created the work and must not have adapted it from an existing work.
The work must also be placed in a medium that is sufficiently permanent so that others are able to reproduce, view or communicate it. Copyright protections arise the moment the creator fixes their work into a tangible form without requiring them to take any additional steps.
Once a work has copyright protections, an inventor or creator determines who will be able to use their work and for what purposes. Once a work is protected, no other individual or entity is permitted to use that work without permission from the creator.
Should I Register a Copyright?
Yes, there are numerous reasons why an individual should formally register their copyright. While a work does obtain automatic copyright protections once it fulfills the requirements noted above, the owner will be limited in their legal remedies if they do not properly register their copyright.
Copyright registration affects:
- Lawsuits: If the owner is a U.S. copyright owner, they must register their copyright before initiating an action for copyright infringement;
- Damages: An owner cannot get damages for infringement for any period before the copyright is registered; and
- Evidence: The registration of copyright, in addition to some other criteria, is proof of the validity of a copyright.
Owners and creators of original works may register a copyright with the United States Copyright Office. Typically, the owner will be required to fill out a form specific to the work that the owner wishes to register as well as submit a fee.
What is the Process by Which to Register a Motion Picture?
In order to register a motion picture, an owner must sent the following to the Copyright Office in Washington D.C.:
- A signed application on Form PA;
- One complete copy of the motion picture being registered; and
- A separate written description of the contents of the motion picture and a non refundable filing fee in the form of a check;
- The owner must check with the Copyright Office for current fees.
What Do I Need to Know about Form PA?
An individual is required to be aware of the following:
- Under nature of work, motion picture is the most generally accepted term;
- If everyone working on a film was made for hire, the individual must list the employer as the author;
- If no part of the movie was made for hire, name all the individuals who made the motion picture should be listed as authors; and
- The date of publication occurs when one or more copies of the firm are distributed to the public by sale, rental, lease, or lending, or when an offering is made to distribute copies to a group of individuals for the purpose of further distribution or public performance.
What is Copyright Infringement?
Copyright infringement arises when an individual or entity violates the exclusive rights of a copyright holder. For example, a copyright holder of a play is permitted to perform that play in a public area for profit.
If another group or individual attempts to perform that play in public for financial gain, they may be held responsible for copyright infringement. Another example of copyright infringement would be if an individual sells a copyrighted song without permission.
The consequences of copyright infringement may include civil damages for lost profits or other consequences, including the seizure of the unauthorized materials. It is important to be aware that federal charges may also arise in certain infringement cases, making it a very serious offense.
Should I Contact an Attorney Regarding My Motion Picture?
If you have created a film and are in the process of registering your film, it may be helpful to consult with a copyright attorney. Due to the complex nature of artistic registration, having the assistance of an attorney who specializes in motion pictures may make the process easier.
A copyright attorney can assist you by designating and safeguarding your intellectual capital. Your attorney can assist with many issues, including licensing and distribution.
When searching for an intellectual property lawyer, LegalMatch can help you find the right individual for your needs. You can search the database of qualified copyright lawyers with the knowledge, skillset, and experience to help you protect what is rightfully yours.
Although some of your copyright rights are more leisurely to exercise, for example, reproduction and distribution, exercising other rights may be much more complex. If you would like to license your copyrighted work, register your copyright, or believe someone may have infringed your copyright, your copyright lawyer can help you get the results you are looking for.