Untangling Ownership Issues
Untangling Ownership Issues
Michael Cohen (Michael N. Cohen, Esq.) gives expert video advice on: How does a copyright protect books from copyright infringement?; What remedies are available to me if my copyright is violated? and more...
What is a 'work for hire'?
Work for hire is a concept in which you can retain intellectual property rights by having an agreement saying that someone who's working for you is creating the works on a work for hire basis. So an example of that would be, if you're a production company and you hire an independent contractor to create music for you, you will want to make sure that they don't end up owning the intellectual property rights, specifically, the copyright of the music. You'd do this by filing or drafting a work for hire agreement stating that you are the owner of the copyright.
What kinds of work qualify as 'work for hire'?
If you want to establish that something was done as a work for hire you should do that via agreement. You should always have some kind of contract in place prior to hiring someone that says that what they're doing is for a work for hire contract. However the reality is a lot of people don't do that. You can still argue that what you did or what they did was done on a work for hire basis, and so the main thing you want to show is that they're a independent contractor rather than an employee.
Do authors need to get copyrights for the material they write?
Authors should always obtain a copyright on any of their materials, whether they've written it, produced it, filmed it, whether it's music or whatever form it's in. They should always obtain a copyright, and the way you do that is by filing with United States Copyright office.
If my work is copyrighted when created, why do I have to register the copyright?
Unlike patents and trademarks, copyrights are a little bit different and a little unusual in that the moment you create something, and it's fixed in what they say a tangible medium of expression, you create a copyright. The problem with that is that you can't enforce it until you have a federal copyright in place. The only way you can enforce your copyrights, by lawsuit, is by filing and getting an issued copyright.
How does a copyright protect books from copyright infringement?
When you purchase a book you do not own the intellectual property to it. What you are really doing is simply buying the tangible thing that it is, which is the physical book, the actual story which is written by the author, and he will always retain the copyright to that. Therefore you are not buying the copyrigh, indeed the only way to obtain that is to contact the author of the work and obtain a license or assignment.
What action can I take if I feel someone has violated a copyright I hold?
If you're the owner of a copyright and you feel that someone has infringed upon or violated those rights, first you have to realize that you have to have an issued copyright. You simply cannot have what's called a common law copyright, rather there has to be an issued copyright with the United States copyright office. If you do have that, then you should go talk to an intellectual property attorney who will deal with this copyright violation.
What remedies are available to me if my copyright is violated?
The kind of remedies available if your copyright has been violated will vary depending upon whether or not, and when, you filed for your copyright. Generally damages are available (which are loss profits), and there is also something called statutory damages as well. If you have filed for a federal copyright and the infringement occurred after you filed for the federal copyright you'll also be entitled to statutory damages.
What public services does the Copyright Office offer?
If you go to the US copyright office website, all their forms of their public services are available there. Indeed the copyright office has a whole host of pamphlets and brochures on their public services to help you file that copyright application.