A copyright is different from a patent or a trademark in that it protects anything that is considered a work of authorship. This includes written material like novels, newspaper and magazine articles, poetry, graphic and architectural work, music and songs, plays, and even motion pictures. Works that may be copyrighted must be put into a tangible medium like writing on paper or a musical recording, as a copyright does not protect ideas. A copyright is protected by federal law; specifically, by the Copyright Act of 1976. A copyright occurs automatically whenever a work is placed into a tangible medium, but if there is an infringement, the author has no legal protection and can’t do anything about it unless the copyright is registered with the U.S. Copyright Office.

Obtaining a Copyright

Registering a copyright can be done online or by mail. Registering for a copyright creates a public record of your right to be the sole owner of your work, and you will receive a certificate of registration from the U.S. Copyright Office. This is necessary if you ever wish to take legal action against copyright infringement in a court of law. In fact, if you register your work within five years of the first publication of it, this registration is then considered to be “prima facie” evidence, which means that an infringing party has the burden of proof to show that they had a copyright on the work before you did. To register, you will need to fill out an application and submit a filing fee. An experienced copyright lawyer can help you set up the registration process, handle all the filing, and also set up a system of enforcement if it should be needed.

Copyright Infringement

Having your copyright registered empowers you to file a civil lawsuit for damages if someone should try to steal or use your work without your consent. Your original work should always have a copyright notice with it, which shows the date of first publication and your name as the original owner of the copyright. If you discover that someone is infringing upon your right and is using your work, you can send a “cease and desist” letter that demands that the infringer stop using your work and acknowledges receipt of the letter. If that party continues to infringe upon your rights, you can file a civil lawsuit. If the party is making a profit by using your work, it is also possible to file criminal charges. This is always more effective if you have hired an experienced copyright lawyer.

Call to Schedule a Consultation With a California Copyright Lawyer Today

If you are interested in registering a copyright for your original work, call to schedule a consultation with a California copyright lawyer today. The professional legal experts at the Law Offices of Dorian Cartwright understand the complexities of copyright law and copyright infringement. We are equipped with the knowledge and resources to get you properly registered and to enforce your rights in cases of infringement.  We serve the cities of Palo Alto, Mountain View, Santa Clara, San Francisco, San Jose and surrounding Silicon Valley and Bay Area communities.  Stop by our website at cartwrightesq.com or give us a call at 800-810-8030 and let us give you legal guidance you can rely on.