A copyright protects written works, music, photographs motion pictures, software, and other intellectual property from being used in full or in part by someone other than the creator. That is called infringement, unless the person using the work pays a fee to obtain permission to use it. T
Copyright protection is important because the unauthorized use can cause the work’s creator loss of income.
The internet is a fertile ground for copyright infringers and in response Congress in 1998 passed the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), the most significant copyright law which applies two 1996 World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) treaties. The DMCA criminalizes some types of encroachment of intellectual property, its unauthorized use, and the use of devices that enable misuse.
If your copyrighted work has been used without permission, you may have grounds for legal action.
Most people don’t know how to go about determining if a copyrighted work has been infringed and may not have time to find out. Hiring an attorney experienced in copyright law can be beneficial because copyright attorneys have access to weekly reports showing that a client’s work has been used without permission.
When a copyright has been infringed, taking legal action is necessary to protect your rights.
A copyright attorney maintains and protects your copyright and can advise you when use of your work falls under the “fair use” doctrine and is not actionable.
If your work has been infringed, your attorney will find the infringer and send a letter demanding payment for using your work.
If payment is not received, your lawyer will file a copyright infringement lawsuit seeking compensation and, in outrageous infringement situations, may also seek to punish the infringer by demanding additional compensation.
Your attorney will handle all of the pretrial procedures and attempt to negotiate a settlement. If a settlement cannot be reached, your attorney will take your case to trial.
Having a copyright registered with the U.S. Copyright Office, which is not necessary but is desirable, will make it easy for your lawyer to prove you own the work. You do not need to hire a lawyer to register a copyright but the government does charge a fee.
If the retail value of the infringement is $1,000 or more, criminal charges can be filed and your attorney will notify the proper authorities.