Copyrights

Boston Lawyers Knowledgeable in Intellectual Property Matters

The United States Copyright Act was enacted to protect works of authorship that are fixed in a tangible medium of expression. It covers not only books and articles but also software, graphic arts, architectural design, motion pictures, and sound recordings. It gives a copyright owner the exclusive right to reproduce, distribute, perform, display, and license the copyrighted work, as well as prepare derivatives. If you are concerned about protecting a work of authorship or litigating copyright issues, you should consult an intellectual property attorney. At Chavous IP Law, our Boston copyright lawyers have substantial experience resolving intellectual property disputes regarding copyrights, trademarks, and patents. We protect clients' rights across the country and around the world.

Strategies for Protecting Your Copyrights

There is copyright protection for any original work of authorship that is fixed in a tangible medium of expression from which it can be communicated, reproduced, or perceived either directly or with the help of a device. There is no copyright protection for ideas, procedures, systems, processes, methods of operation, principles, concepts, or discoveries. Sometimes patent law does provide protection for these; for example, a process may be patented with a utility patent. The work must show at least a little bit of creativity to be protected. Alphabetical lists of information, such as a phone book, would not be protected, but certain original aspects of the list, such as how it was laid out or formatted, might be.

Copyright attaches to a work of authorship as soon as it is created. However, registration of a copyright with the Copyright Office is necessary before you sue for copyright infringement in the United States. By contrast, for works originating from a Berne Convention country, you can initiate an infringement lawsuit with the assistance of a copyright attorney at our Boston firm without registering the work with the United States Copyright Office.

An owner of a copyright has these exclusive rights during the copyright term: reproduction, distribution, performance, display, license, and preparation of derivative works that are based on the copyrighted work of authorship. Once the term expires, the work falls into the public domain and is no longer under copyright protection, such that it can be used freely without the permission of the former copyright owner.

The exclusive rights of the copyright owner are restricted by the doctrine of fair use. Fair use of a copyrighted work could include criticism, comment, teaching, news reporting, scholarship, or research. This doctrine can be a little difficult to apply, and in some cases, it results in litigation over whether or not an alleged infringement should be protected by the doctrine of fair use. Our Boston copyright attorneys can advise you on whether the fair use doctrine is likely to apply to a certain situation.

When faced with an infringement claim, courts use a multi-factor balancing test to decide whether a specific real-world use should fall under fair use. The four factors to be considered are the nature of the work, the purpose and character of the use, how much and which part of the copyrighted work is used in relation to the work as a whole, and the effect of the use on the market or potential market for the original, copyrighted work. There is no automatic fair use. Even if someone wants to use a copyrighted work for an educational purpose, this use does not always fall within the doctrine of fair use. For example, if a teacher simply copies an entire book so that students need not purchase it, this would adversely affect the potential market or market for the original work of authorship. However, it may be fair use to photocopy a few passages of a work for a compiled reader.

Generally, copyright infringement happens if a copyrighted work is distributed, performed, reproduced, publicly displayed, or made into a derivative work of authorship without the owner's permission. Anyone who violates the exclusive rights of a copyright owner can be sued for copyright infringement by the copyright owner. If you are a copyright owner concerned about infringement, you should be aware that the statute of limitations for bringing a copyright infringement lawsuit is three years from the date of the allegedly infringing acts.

Consult a Dedicated Copyright Lawyer at Our Boston Firm

Copyright can be a complicated area of law. Whether you are seeking to enforce a copyright or you are concerned with getting permission to use a copyrighted work, it can be helpful to consult an experienced attorney. If you are looking for a lawyer to handle a copyright, trademark, or patent dispute, Chavous Intellectual Property Law may be able to help you. We represent clients throughout the United States and the world. Call us at 351-207-5972 or complete our online form.