Protecting artists and their work
Once a creator puts a concept into a tangible form, that work automatically gains federal copyright protection. The creator enjoys the exclusive right to print, sell, copy, license, distribute and use the work. Unfortunately, infringement of copyright happens all the time, and creators can easily be victimized unless they take affirmative steps to protect their works. Michael Coblenz Attorney at Law helps protect artists’ work through copyright registration. I defend creators’ copyrights against infringement, and help creators monetize their work through licensing agreements.
Types of copyrightable art
Essentially any type of art produced in a tangible form can be copyrighted. I handle copyright issues for artists’ creations in all types of media, including:
- Books, stories, and poems
- Musical compositions
- Dramatic works
- Newspaper and magazine articles
- Technical drawings
- Computer programs
However, there are limits. For example, a writer cannot copyright a title to a work.
Registering your copyright
Copyright attaches automatically at the moment of creation, so a creator immediately has enforceable rights. Unfortunately, those rights are only enforceable through the common law, which requires the creator to prove actual damages. Because it is very hard to prove how the reproduction of a photograph (or other artistic work) actually harmed the artist, suits for common law infringement are rarely effective unless the infringer has made a substantial amount of money from his illicit use of the work. For example, lawsuits alleging plagiarism of the tune for a hit song or the plot of a hit movie can recover substantial damages.
In most cases, a creator is not fully protected unless the work has been registered formally with the U.S. Copyright Office. Registration allows the creator to sue for statutory damages which generally fall between $750 and $30,000 per work, at the discretion of the court. In cases of willful infringement, a plaintiff may be entitled to as much as $150,000 per work.
The Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DCMA) provides additional protections for infringements on the internet and empowers creators to demand that internet service providers remove access to infringing materials. With the creation of new virtual worlds on the Internet, new virtual legal issues are arising. I keep current with emerging law, so you have optimal protection.
For work created after 1978, the U.S. Copyright Office grants copyright for the full extent of an author’s or creator’s life plus 50 years. Copyright is recognized by many countries through the Universal Copyright Convention, so your protection extends internationally.
Monetizing your work through licensing agreements
When a creator wants to license a work for use, our firm negotiates licensing agreements that protect the creator’s rights and enable a reasonable return. If another person or company attempts to infringe upon your copyright, I pursue all available legal remedies. I first demand that the infringer cease and desist unauthorized actions. However, often the most beneficial resolution is for the creator and the infringer to enter into a licensing agreement. This allows the creator to monetize the work and the infringer to escape onerous penalties.
Contact a meticulous Lexington intellectual property attorney
Call Michael Coblenz Attorney at Law at 859-305-3521 or contact me online to schedule a consultation at my Lexington, Kentucky office.