Although copyrights can technically be created once fixed to a tangible medium, there are still valid reasons to register the work with the U.S Copyright Office. Registered works can help companies preserve its rights to recover attorneys’ fees and certain statutory damages. Time is of the essence in protecting these rights, and filing the application immediately after its creation is a method that can be routinely used to help ensure adequate protection.
Because there there other methods to protecting intellectual property, copyrights may not be the most appropriate means to accomplishing legal protection.
Although not required, consulting a copyright attorney for advice and assitance with filing a copyright application can help companies determine whether copyright is the appropriate means to protecting the work, ensure that the application is completed and filed appropriately, and discuss other ways to protect the work.
Companies that have valid copyrights may be put into a position to defend their rights. Ways to accomplish this include preparing and sending cease and desist letters to those who may be infringing on the companies copyrights. Another avenue is to use takedown notices to the parties who may be facilitating the publication of an infringing work. As a last resort, a company may be forced to initiate a lawsuit in federal court to enforce its rights. Our copyright lawyers can assist businesses with copyright enforcement.
There may be situations where a company receives a notice that it may be infringing on a copyright. In the area of software, the notice may come from the Business Software Alliance, or directly from a publisher. Kirkpatrick Law attorneys have experience representing a variety of clients with infringements. Copyright infringement notices should not be ignored because serious litigation could follow if a settlement is not reached. If a business is accused of infringement, we can analyze the facts and circumstances and determine the legal position. Accordingly, we can advise on preparing an appropriate response or working on the behalf of the business to negotiate a settlement.
Works made for hire are works created by an employee within the scope of their employment. In such circumstances and as an exception to the fundamental copyright rule that the copyright belongs to the author, the copyright to the work belongs to the employer. Employees that wish to retain ownership of authored works in the scope of employment should obtain an assignment agreement, preferably before the work begins. Employers that have employees who engage in creating copyrightable works should require employees acknowledge internal policies related to works made for hire.
Companies may be surprised to learn that copyrightable works created by a third party source, such a consultant, and paid-for by the company are owned by the third party absent an assignment agreement. Companies outsourcing development of works such as website designs, content, software, and other similar works should be prepared to propose a copyright assignment at the onset of the relationship.