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Copyright Protection

Thank you for considering Stake to assist with your copyright needs. Stake is an intellectual property boutique serving clients across the United States in both domestic and international matters. If you’re ready to chat about our copyright services and find out whether Stake would be a good fit for your business, please complete our contact form today!

Why get a Copyright?

Copyrights protect creative works. A copyright can protect software code, promotional materials, lyrics, music, sculptures, artwork, books, articles, and more. Copyrights are one of the four types of intellectual property.

Practically speaking, a copyright can give you near-complete control over your copyrighted work for the rest of your life. You get to choose how, when, where, and by whom your copyrighted work reproduced, distributed, and more.

What exactly is a Copyright?

Like the other intellectual property rights, a Copyright is a “right”—that is, an ability to exclude others from doing what’s protected by the right—that accrues to its owner.

Copyright in a creative work is really a bundle of rights, including:

  • The right to reproduce—or copy—the copyrighted work (“Reproduction”)
  • The right to create derivative works based on the copyrighted work (“Derivative Works”);
  • The right to distribute copies of the copyrighted work (“Distribution”);
  • The right to publicly perform the work, if applicable (“Public Performance”);
  • The right to publicly display the work, if applicable (“Public Display”); and
  • If the work is of visual art (like a sculpture), the right to proper attribution and to control the integrity of the work (“Attribution and Integrity”).

These rights initially all accrue to the author of the copyrighted material, but all or any combination of them can be assigned, licensed, specifically authorized, and more.

Are there exceptions to these rights?

Fair use is one you’ve probably heard of, but there are several more exceptions the law provides for. If you are considering using a copyrighted work and need to consider whether your proposed use falls within an exception, we can assist by providing an Opinion of Counsel.

What’s the difference between a Copyright and a Patent, Trademark, or Trade Secret?

Other than the length of the term, the major difference between a copyright and a patent, a trade secret, or a trademark is what a copyright can protect. Copyrights protect creative works that are set in a medium, like e-books or photographs, whereas patents and trade secrets protect your ideas, systems, devices, and processes themselves, and trademarks protect elements of your brand. If you have questions about what category of intellectual property something falls under, just ask (it’s included in your Counsel Subscription)!

How to get a Copyright?

Copyrights actually exist upon creation of a work that’s qualified for copyright protection. An eligible original work is copyrighted as soon as its author fixes it in a medium (e.g., writes the blog post, records the podcast, films the video, or snaps the picture) However, there are certain benefits that come into play when you register your copyright with the United States Copyright Office, including:

  • A public record of ownership of your copyright;
  • A presumption that you own the copyright;
  • The ability to enforce your copyright;
  • You become eligible to receive statutory damages, attorney fees, and costs for infringement; and
  • Protection against importation of works that infringe on your copyright.

Who owns a Copyright?

The general rule holds the author of the copyrighted work is its first owner. There are a few key exceptions to this rule, including corporate (or LLC) authorship and works made for hire. With respect to the former, a company may be considered the owner of the copyrighted work if the work was made by an employee in furtherance of his job duties. With respect to the latter, a contracting party becomes the owner of the copyrighted work if the work was made by an independent contractor in furtherance of the duties within the scope of the contractor agreement. This “work-for-hire” principle has specific limitations that must be considered and addressed—we’d be happy to offer take a look at your independent contractor agreements for you as part of your Counsel Subscription.

How long does a Copyright last?

Copyrights are designed to outlast us. Because of this, they often form part of a person’s legacy. The term of a copyright is long, and lasts until:

  • If the author is a person, 70 years after the person’s death; or
  • If the author is a company (e.g., an employer for whom an employee created the work in furtherance of job duties, or a properly contracted work-for-hire), the lesser of 95 years from publication of the work or 120 years from creation of the work.

How can Stake help protect your Copyright?

Stake can help you through the entire lifecycle of a copyright—from the creation of the work through enforcement of the copyright against an infringer (or defense against an accusation of infringement). If you’re ready to chat about our copyright services and find out whether Stake would be a good fit for your business, please complete our contact form today!

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