You may have heard that some old songs or books are in the public domain after the copyright expired, and want to know if you can use them. Alternatively, you may have written a novel or song and wish to protect it from being copied. But how do you navigate this detailed process and what happens if you do not? A trustworthy intellectual property attorney could discuss these questions with you.

Copyright laws in the U.S. go back to the 1700s, protecting the right of the creator to own their art and profit from it in their own way. With this protection, art and literature have thrived in America because artists can share, sell, and collect royalties on their work. You can do the same with the help of a Boynton Beach copyright lawyer.

What is a Copyright?

Copyright protects creative expression. Inventors seek patents, and business owners pursue trademarks to brand their products, but artistic works should be registered with U.S. Copyright Office to protect them from infringement. The creator cannot sue for infringement until a copyright is registered, according to 17 U.S. Code § 412. Copyrighted works can include, but are not limited to:

  • Books
  • Blogs
  • Movies
  • Plays
  • Musical compositions
  • Visual art: Paintings, illustrations, photographs, sculptures
  • Architectural designs
  • Computer programs

Artists and authors can reproduce their work and distribute it by lending it for a fee, displaying it for sale, performing it publicly for an admittance fee, and using portions of it, such as a still shot from a movie, for an advertising poster.

They can also license out their work and transfer ownership. Many copyrighted images are licensed for display on t-shirts and recording artists collect royalties on their songs when others record them. An experienced copyright attorney in Boynton Beach could explain to an artist how to protect their original work of art or literature.

How Does the Public Know an Artistic Piece is Copyrighted?

Once the Copyright Office reviews and approves the paperwork for registering a copyright, the owner will display the © symbol or the word “Copyright” on the artistic work, such as on the publisher’s page of a book or on a CD jacket. If another artist wishes to record a copyrighted song, the copyright owner must first approve it and will potentially negotiate a fee for its use. A copyright attorney in Boynton beach could provide the proper documents to license or transfer copyrighted work.

Notably, copyrights are granted for specific periods. If the artistic work was created after January 1, 1978, it is copyrighted for the life of the author and an additional 70 years. Copyrights for works created before 1978 are determined by varying factors. If creative work was written under a pseudonym or produced as a piece the artist was hired to create, the copyright lasts for 95 years from the first publication date or 120 years from the date the artist created it, whichever date expires first.

Examples of Copyright Infringement Cases

In 2009, the Associated Press claimed the 2008 “Hope” poster created by street artist Shephard Fairey, and used in President Obama’s first presidential campaign, copied a photo by AP freelancer Mannie Garcia. Fairey’s defense was that his work was fair use and did not diminish the photo’s value. The opponents settled in 2011, including splitting profits Fairey earned.

In 1971, George Harrison was challenged for copyright infringement for his hit song “My Sweet Lord,” which The Chiffons claimed copied their 1963 hit, “He’s So Fine.” The judge agreed it was the same song with different words, and Harrison was ordered to pay $1.6 million in damages.

Seek Out Legal Counsel with a Boynton Beach Copyright Attorney

If you create artistic or literary pieces, you should apply for copyright protection; because if you do not, you will not be entitled to sue anyone who copies or displays your work. Although the process might seem daunting, your work will be protected beyond your lifetime if you work with a Boynton beach copyright lawyer.

We also aggressively advocate for you if someone does try to steal your work. Our attorneys are seasoned litigators who know how to seek damages for your losses, including attorney’s fees. If you wish to control your creative output and hold accountable those who try to profit from it, the Lomnitzer Law Firm is ready to assist you.