As in all areas of law, this is a brief summary, and if you have a copyright issue, you should contact an attorney in a timely fashion, as rights and defenses can be lost.

Copyright law protects the owner of an “original work of authorship” against copying, adaptation, or other unauthorized uses from the time the work is put in a fixed form. The protection period for copyrighted work depends on several factors. Among those factors are whether it has been published, and, if so, the date of first publication. As a general rule, for works created after January 1, 1978, copyright protection lasts for the life of the author plus an additional 70 years. For an anonymous work, a pseudonymous work, or a work made for hire, the copyright endures for a term of 95 years from the year of its first publication or a term of 120 years from the year of its creation, whichever expires first. For works first published prior to 1978, the term will vary depending on several factors. To determine the length of copyright protection for a particular work, we need to have details and then we can refer to the Copyright Act (Title 17 of the United States Code, Chapter 3), Circular 15a, and Circular 1 to get you a definitive answer.

These are examples of works that can be protected under US Copyright laws:

The owner of the original work has certain rights over their work, including control over its distribution and how it is marketed. These rights are known as copyright ownership rights. As a result of copyright ownership rights, you may be able to prevent unauthorized access to your original work and its derivatives (i.e., copies or adaptations). You may also receive compensation for any damages you incur due to copyright infringement by another party.  Additionally, you have the right to authorize others to exercise these exclusive rights, subject to certain statutory limitations.

These are examples of some of the exclusive rights of a copyright owner under US Copyright laws:

Here are works that cannot be protected by copyright (also see CIrcular 33).  (Other forms of protection may be available for these.)

Copyright infringement is any unauthorized use of original work and can violate criminal and civil laws. Copyright infringers can be liable for various types of statutory damages, depending on the circumstances. In addition to statutory damages, the owner of an infringed work may also have the right to rescind a transaction made by an infringer where they sold or transferred copyrights in their original work without authorization from its rightful owner.

To protect against copyright infringement, it is essential that you register your copyright with the U.S. Copyright Office within three months of publication or before your work is infringed upon. In addition to registration, taking into consideration steps that can be taken to protect your work, such as using digital security, is essential.

To be eligible for statutory damages and certain other remedies, you must register your copyright with the U.S. Copyright Office before an infringement occurs. The exceptions to this rule are:

File sharing refers to the distribution of original works over the Internet without authorization from their rightful owner. Two forms of files are commonly distributed by file sharers, including software and music. The file-sharing of software is widely known to be a violation of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (“DMCA”). It is one of the most commonly cited instances of copyright infringement. If you are wondering what to do in case you have been charged with this offense, consult us immediately.

Music file-sharing is not entirely illegal as long as the original owner permits other parties to use their original work. However, it can be considered criminal if your original work includes copy protection technology which they have defeated or if you have not given other parties explicit permission to use it. If you have been charged with violating copyright law and want to learn more about what legal options are available, contact Heimlich Law, PC at once so they can help you determine the best course of action.

The file-sharing of copyrighted content is illegal, which makes the infringers the ones who are liable for copyright infringement based on their actions. The Digital Millennium Copyright Act (“DMCA”) states that if you possess any copyrighted work and fail to institute a take-down procedure upon being notified by the rightful owner, you may also be held liable for this offense as well.

Works For Hire

(also see CIrcular 30)

“Works made for hire” are an important exception to the general rule for claiming copyright. When a work is made for hire, the author is not the individual who actually created the work but rather the party that hired the individual is considered the author and the copyright owner of the work. Whether a work is made for hire is determined by the facts that exist at the time the work was created. There are two situations in which a work may be made for hire:

1. When the work is created by an employee as part of the employee’s regular duties, or

2. When an individual and the hiring party enter into an express written agreement that the work is to be considered a “work made for hire” and the work is specially ordered or commissioned for use as one of these: a compilation, a contribution to a collective work, a part of a motion picture or other audiovisual work, a translation, a supplementary work, an instructional text, a test, answer material for a test, an atlas, etc.

The concept of work made for hire can get complicated and has serious consequences for both the individual who creates the work and the hiring party, who is considered to be the author and copyright owner of the work. Contact us if you find yourself in this quagmire.

Have a Question?

The Copyright Notice

A copyright notice is a statement placed on copies or phonorecords of the work to inform the public that a copyright owner is claiming ownership of the work. A copyright notice consists of three elements:

Male hand showing R-Registered trademark on wooden block.
Using a copyright notice is optional for unpublished works, non-U.S. works, and works published on or after March 1, 1989. However, the notice conveys the following benefits:

Notice was required for works published in the United States before March 1, 1989. Works published without notice before that date may have entered the public domain in this country.

Contact Heimlich Law, PC for your copyright issues including international protection of copyrights.

© 2022 Heimlich Law, PC  (just had to give an example of use 🙂 )

Skip to content