Copyrights

Rights of Authorship

Copyrights are a form of protection provided by the laws of the United States (title 17, U. S. Code) to the authors of “original works of authorship,” including literary, dramatic, musical, artistic, and certain other intellectual works. This protection is available to both published and unpublished works. Where the owner of a copyright is a natural person, the author may be granted a period of exclusive ownership in this intellectual property for the author's life plus 70 years. Where a company owns the copyright, the period of exclusivity is 95 years from publication or 120 years from creation.

Exclusive Rights

The Copyright Act generally gives the owner of copyright the exclusive right to do and to authorize others to do the following:


  • reproduce the work in copies or phonorecords;
  • prepare derivative works based upon the work;
  • distribute copies or phonorecords of the work to the public by sale or other transfer of ownership, or by rental, lease, or lending;
  • perform the work publicly, in the case of literary, musical, dramatic, and choreographic works, pantomimes, and motion pictures and other audiovisual works;
  • display the work publicly, in the case of literary, musical, dramatic, and choreographic works, pantomimes, and pictorial, graphic, or sculptural works, including the individual images of a motion picture or other audiovisual Work;
  • perform the work publicly (in the case of sound recordings*) by means of a digital audio transmission

In addition, certain authors of works of visual art have the rights of attribution and integrity as described in section 106A of the 1976 Copyright Act. For further information, see Circular 40, Copyright Registration for Works of the Visual Arts.

Benefits of Registration

Although registration is not a condition of copyright protection, copyright law provides several inducements or advantages to encourage copyright owners to make registration. Among these advantages are the following:

  • Registration establishes a public record of the copyright claim.
  • Before an infringement suit may be filed in court, registration is necessary for works of U. S. origin.
  • If made before or within five years of publication, registration will establish prima facie evidence in court of the validity of the copyright and of the facts stated in the certificate.
  • If registration is made within three months after publication of the work or prior to an infringement of the work, statutory damages and attorney’s fees will be available to the copyright owner in court actions. Otherwise, only an award of actual damages and profits is available to the copyright owner.
  • Registration allows the owner of the copyright to record the registration with the U. S. Customs Service for protection against the importation of infringing copies.

Copyright Applications

We provide economical searches of the U.S. Library of Congress to check for the existence of copyright registrations. The firm provides consultations and registration services for all types of copyrights, including text, art, and computer software. The firm also represents plaintiffs and defendants in copyright infringement cases. By giving the public notice of its copyrights through the use of a copyright notice, an author becomes entitled, in case of infringement, to an award of damages and, in some cases, attorney's fees.

Litigation

The professionals at our firm are experienced in securing, licensing, and litigating copyrights for a wide variety of works. Additionally, we also have cutting-edge experience in the application of copyright law to software, the Internet, new technologies in entertainment and communications, and computers. This understanding of our clients' technologies and business environment, as well as copyright law, allows us to advise clients on protecting intellectual property assets in the technology sphere.