Copyrights can be an important asset to the copyright owner. A copyright is a set of exclusive rights granted to the author or claimant of an original work. Copyrights to a work also include the right to copy, distribute and adapt the work.
Under United States copyright law, an original work of authorship fixed in a tangible form of expression is entitled to copyright protection. A work is fixed in a tangible form of expression when its embodiment is sufficiently permanent or stable to permit it to be perceived, reproduced, or otherwise communicated for a period of more than transitory duration. 17 U.S.C. § 101. Musicals, software code, paintings, boat designs, architectural plans, photographs, employee manuals, and certain types of form documents, are just a few examples of works that may be entitled to copyright protection.
An original work may be entitled to copyright protection even though the work has not been registered with United States Copyright Office. In other words, copyright protection may exist from the time an original work is created. However, a lawsuit based upon copyright infringement of an original work cannot be properly filed unless the work has been registered with the Copyright Office. The attorneys at The Plus IP Firm have years of experience in registering works with the Copyright Office and litigating copyright infringement lawsuits. If you work with a business or are an individual in New York City or the Tri-State Area to register a work with the Copyright Office, the attorneys at The Plus IP Firm are available to assist you.
Copyright registration of a work does have several advantages in litigation as well as being a prerequisite to file a lawsuit based upon copyright infringement. The United States Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) has a fee shifting provision that allows a plaintiff to recover reasonable attorney’s fees and costs for bringing a copyright infringement lawsuit against a defendant. In the United States, the default rule in litigation is that each party bears their own costs regardless of which party ultimately prevails. However, attorney’s fees are available to a copyright owner if a work is timely registered under the fee shifting provision of the DMCA. 17 U.S.C. § 412. This fee shifting provision can be a significant advantage for a copyright owner in litigation.
Timely registration of a work with the Copyright Office allows for copyright owner to recover statutory damages from an infringer. Statutory damages are a remedy that allows a plaintiff in a lawsuit to recover damages without having to prove actual damages. The amount of statutory damages under the DMCA can be between $750.00 to $30,000.00 per work and up to $150,000.00 if a defendant’s infringement was willful. As a result, statutory damages may be an effective tool for achieving a favorable settlement against an infringer of a work that is timely registered. The attorneys at Plus IP Firm have successfully enforced the copyrighted works of their clients as well as defended clients in copyright infringement lawsuits. The Plus IP attorneys are available to answer any questions that you have regarding copyright law and the copyright registration process.