One of the first protections the country’s founders offered citizens was for their creative work. If you authored a story, painted a landscape, or wrote a unique song, copyright laws exist to protect your work. You can share, sell, promote, and earn royalties on it – and you can make that process easier by consulting an experienced intellectual property attorney.

When someone attempts to use your artistic expression without your consent, and after your copyright is registered, you have recourse in federal court to stop the infringement and hold them responsible for the profits you lose. Whether you are a novice or a seasoned artist, a Wellington copyright lawyer protects your work now and well into the future.

What Are Copyrights?

Inventors patent their inventions, and business owners register trademarks to protect their logos and names. Artists in several venues protect their original creative expressions by copyrighting them with the U.S. Copyright Office. All three forms of unique expression are known as intellectual property. To bring a lawsuit for copyright infringement, creators must have registered their work, according to 17 U.S. Code § 412. Most people think of copyrighted material as novels and songs, but the field is far more expansive, including:

  • All genres of books, poetry, short stories, research papers, essays, and musical scores and lyrics
  • Blog posts
  • Movies and theatrical plays
  • Visual art, including art created for commercial purposes
  • Computer programs
  • Architectural designs

Creators can make copies of their original work and distribute those copies for a price, display their original works with or without the intention of selling it, perform or record their work, and use portions of their work for advertising, including licensing work to companies that pay licensing fees. For example, Disney licenses images of its characters to be used on various consumer goods, like mugs and t-shirts. Many singer-songwriters collect royalties when other artists record their songs.

A skilled copyright attorney in Wellington could handle all aspects of registering an artistic expression and litigating in federal court if someone infringes on it.

Determining Unique Expression in Copyright Law

Copyright functions as protection for unique expressions but not for the ideas behind them. The courts are sometimes asked to make that distinction, which is not always clear. Painting a simple red heart does not mean any other artist’s painting of a heart is a copyright violation. However, the replication of a specific artist’s heart painting could be infringement if it was copyrighted and they did not give permission to use it. A copyright attorney could guide a Wellington artist concerning what work is suitable for protection.

Length of Copyright Protection

Copyrights have an expiration date, although artists need not worry about it during their lifetimes. Artistic expressions created and registered after January 1, 1978, are copyrighted for the author’s lifetime plus an additional 70 years. Older copyrights are governed under different rules: if an artist was employed to create a work or created a work under a pseudonym, the copyright is good for the earlier of 95 years from the date the work was first published, or 120 years from the date the artist created it. This means many novels and songs created in the early 20th Century are now in the public domain. A lawyer could work with an artist to make clear what the copyright expiration date is and how infringement rules apply for works covered under both sets of rules.

Call and Learn How a Wellington Copyright Attorney Protects Your Artistic Work

You have the right to control how your work is shown and to clamp down on anyone who pirates it. You may want to license your art, record your songs, or transfer your copyright for a fee. It is up to you.

Copyright laws and litigation are part of federal jurisdiction and your work must be registered with a federal agency before you can sue an infringer. Lomnitzer Law could help you apply for copyright protection, halt someone from infringing your work, or represent you after accusations of infringement. Contact a Wellington copyright lawyer today and let us help you navigate relevant laws concerning the creation or sale of unique works in a tangible medium.