What is Copyright?
Copyright protects a wide array of creative expressions, including visual works, music compositions, architectural works, source code and software, literary works and sculptures. Businesses and individuals, such as artists, musicians, photographers, programmers and others, all regularly create material that should be protected by copyright. All need to protect their eligible works as much as possible but, at the same time, avoid infringing others’ copyrighted works.
Why Protect Copyright?
Pursuing those who infringe copyright and helping our clients avoid copyright infringement are the twin aims of the Sanders Law Group copyright lawyers. Many of our clients have valuable, creative works that are infringed, and often find themselves in need of seeking recourse through the legal system to protect their rights. The Copyright Act provides a full range of remedies, from actual damages to statutory damages of varying amounts, depending upon the nature of the infringement. The Copyright Act not only allows for injunctive relief to stop an unauthorized user from infringing copyright, but also allows for the recovery of attorneys’ fees when certain criteria are met. Not all remedies are automatically available, however, and so we counsel our clients regularly on matters ranging from how to protect their creative works in a legally proper manner, but to avail themselves of all the Copyright Act remedies.
An issue that has become increasingly prevalent is addressing copyright infringement in the internet realm. This type of infringement has become rampant due to the ease with which people can copy and reproduce others’ works with a short series of simple mouse clicks. Modern internet businesses face a myriad of copyright issues under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (“DMCA”), which range from the simple to the complex. Under the DMCA, certain businesses often seek to avail themselves of a “safe harbor” from copyright liability arising from the acts of their users, however, such immunity will often depend upon the circumstances of the businesses’ relationship to the user, and other issues. At the same time, modern internet businesses may face liability and lose the copyright safe harbor—and thus face liability for the copyright infringements that occur on their website(s)—depending upon the circumstances. The lawyers at Sanders Law Group have litigated the DMCA and its contours extensively and, so, can prosecute or defend actions that address the scope of the DMCA that evade many other attorneys who do not possess a similar degree of skill and experience. We have also counseled numerous clients through the unsettled area of fair use issues in the digital age, and the challenges posed by such recent legislation as the DMCA. Learn more about how we protect from Copyright Infringement and more about the DMCA.
Our Team is Dedicated to One Goal: Yours
The Sanders Law Group team brings together attorneys who share years of experience in navigating high-profile intellectual property and entertainment disputes and transactions, who share a substantive knowledge that can only be gleaned through litigating cases in all Judicial Districts throughout the Country; developing the oral advocacy skills of deft communicators and negotiators; and the technical expertise required to explain the issues in language that can be readily understood.
We know that all clients are different. They have different means and resources, as well as different goals and, therefore, different billing needs. For some, traditional hourly billing makes the most sense, but, even then, a failure to review those needs and avoid excessive staffing or engaging in needless discovery disputes do not serve the client. For other clients—both individual and institutional—the cost-certainty of a contingency or flat-fee billing arrangement makes the most sense. Flexible and nimble, the attorneys at Sanders Law Group are sensitive to all these needs and strive to provide the specialized legal services needed by all of our clients, whether they be large publicly-traded companies, mid-size businesses, or individual inventors and creators.
Our lawyers have also successfully litigated copyright licensing-related disputes for entertainment, media, and hi-tech clients, and have filed briefs as amicus curiae in copyright infringement suits not involving our direct clients. All told, our copyright experience runs the full gamut of protected works, from such traditional subject matter as music, literature, art, photography, film and television to such novel subject matter as computer object and source code, web pages, and architecture.
We handle all facets of intellectual property law.
Litigation: Do you believe that someone has taken your intellectual property or is accusing you of improperly using their intellectual property? Patent, copyright, trademark, trade secrets, idea theft and right of publicity litigation is what we do.
Ideas & Inventions: Do you have an idea or a new creation that you want to protect? Do you no know where to turn? Protecting your new, novel ideas within the law of intellectual property is what we do. Whether your needs involve copyright or trademark registration or prosecution, the lawyers at Sanders Law Group are qualified to serve your needs.
Deals, Licensing & Counseling: Do you have licensing needs? A deal you need to structure or need intellectual property advice? We do it all, from technology counseling, start-up structures, trademark or copyright licensing, film, television, music and new media production, and distribution and talent representation.
How do we Protect Copyright Infringement?
A copyright owner owns a bundle of rights associated with his or her works. When one of these rights is used without the express consent of the copyright owner, it is considered an infringement of copyright or a copyright violation. The rights most often at issue are:
- Right of Reproduction. You may reproduce your work in any fixed form. An example of copyright infringement is if someone copies a photograph or image you have created and uses or attempts to sell it without your permission.
- Right of Distribution. You may distribute your work by selling it, leasing it, displaying it in public, or lending it. An example of copyright infringement is if someone sells or makes available unlicensed copies of your poetry.
- Right to Derivative Works. You may modify your work or create a new work based on the work. An example of copyright infringement is if someone films a movie based on your book without your permission.
- Right of Public Display. You may show your work (or a copy of your work) directly to the public. This includes putting copyrighted work on the internet. A frequent example of copyright infringement is when someone uploads your photography to a website without your permission.
- Right of Public Performance. You may recite, play, dance, or act out your work. An example of copyright infringement is if you write a play and another person produces that play without permission.
There are, of course, limits and exceptions to these rights. Generally, someone can use your works if it qualifies for one or more of the fair use exceptions to copyright, and, depending on the circumstances, may use your work if it is in public domain (that is, no longer under copyright protection).
DMCA Takedown Remedies
If your material is used online without your permission, known as internet piracy or digital piracy, you may request that the infringer remove the material by sending a “takedown notice” under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. This is likely the best remedy if you solely wish to have the content removed. You need only follow the proper format for issuing a Takedown Notice to the website host, notifying it that it has published content in violation of copyright protection act or not in accordance with your wishes as the copyright owner. A formal copyright is not necessary to take advantage of DMCA takedown protections.
Copyright Registration Protection
Copyright protection extends to digital website content such as graphics, text, photos, music, and video files. If your business utilizes a website, it almost certainly owns copyrightable content, and should be protected. Although copyright protection technically exists as soon as a creative work is created, there are various advantages when you secure a formal registration. For example, without a federal registration, it is more difficult to enforce your rights to stop acts of infringement, and a federal registration also avoids disputes about authorship by providing evidence of the date of creation and ownership. A federal registration is therefore often a critical tool in stopping infringement, maintaining control of a work, and avoiding costly legal disputes.
Your creative works are valuable assets, and should be duly protected with an actual copyright registration. Future possible legal disputes will be far more costly and time-consuming than any fees you may pay to register a federal copyright.
Sanders Law Group experienced copyright registration lawyers have filed copyright applications for a wide variety of clients, including photographers, software developers, writers, musicians, and visual artists. We have also prosecuted copyright applications and requests for reconsideration of application refusals, assisted our clients with complex licensing arrangements, and resolved a number of complicated copyright disputes. Copyright owners are entitled by law to recover statutory damages, and they become eligible to recover attorney fees against infringers. Statutory damages are awarded by the courts and do not require the copyright owner to prove any specific loss.
To obtain the maximum benefits of the U.S. Copyright laws, you must file a copyright application prior to publication (before the work is made available to the public) or, in some cases, within three months of publication. It is critical to register your unique content with the U.S. Copyright Office immediately, particularly if such content is to be posted by you or another to the Internet. This will act as a deterrent to your competitors from stealing your intellectual property for their own use. Timely registration provides for the right to recover substantial statutory damages of up to $150,000 for each instance of willful infringement and attorneys’ fees in the event litigation is necessary to enforce your rights and protect your Internet copyright assets. Failure to timely register a copyright pertaining to Internet content will preclude you from taking advantage of these significant remedies. Although your copyright exists from the moment you create your work, registration is a prerequisite to enforcing that right through copyright infringement litigation.
Copyright law protects the creative works of expression such as music, the written word, photographs, and paintings, but it also protects creations such as software code, engineering designs, architectural plans, and more. Copyright protections include the exclusive rights to reproduce, distribute publicly perform or display such works, and the right to create derivative works.
Copyright protection is vital to the growth of the entertainment and publishing industries. A company’s copyright portfolio can actually be far more valuable than its fixed assets, and infringement can affect artists and publishers alike. Sanders Law Group’ copyright infringement lawyers have litigated numerous copyright infringement matters on behalf of both plaintiffs and defendants.
Our copyright infringement litigation team continuously re-evaluates our clients’ risks and benefits during the course of litigation, re-assessing settlement and litigation strategies on an ongoing basis as new facts are discovered. In the situation of online infringement, stopping the dissemination of a work is often as important or more important than financial remedies, and we often utilize takedown notices and §512 subpoenas to get infringing content off the internet before any lawsuit is even filed.
Our team of copyright infringement attorneys have significant experience litigating and resolving copyright disputes in a number of contexts and industries, and on behalf of both plaintiffs and defendants. We bring that experience to the table through all stages of the dispute resolution process, from initial case evaluation through settlement efforts and ultimately trial.
Sanders Law Group can help if you are a copyright owner attempting to enforce your rights, if your image or likeness has been misappropriated for the commercial benefit of another, or if you are an individual or business accused of infringing the copyright rights of others. Please contact us for a free consultation with an experienced Internet Copyright Attorney to discuss your particular Internet-based copyright infringement legal issue, and how we can assist you by submitting your matter using our Free Online Case Submission Form, calling us for a free consultation, or sending us an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.