Pfeiffer Law Corp works with creators to protect their works to the fullest extent possible.
Copyright Protection and Registration
Copyright protection affords the creator of an original work of authorship the legal right to control that creative work. Specifically, the author is afforded the right to control the adaptation, reproduction, public distribution, public performance, public display, and digital transmission of the work. Copyright protection attaches the minute the work is fixed in a tangible medium of expression, but the rights created by such basic protection are limited. For example, the owner of a non-registered copyright cannot win attorney’s fees or statutory damages in the event of litigation, essentially rendering any real threat of enforcement against infringement of those rights toothless. Thus, it is always advisable to register your work with the U.S. Copyright Offices. At Pfeiffer Law Corp, we will register your work to ensure you have all possible remedies at your disposal.
When your work has been adapted, reproduced, publicly distributed, publicly performed, publicly displayed, or digitally transmitted without your permission, your copyrights in that work may have been infringed. Many factors go into a copyright infringement analysis, the crux of which centers upon whether substantial similarity exists between the works at issue. If the unauthorized work is a direct copy, then this analysis will not take much time. However, if the work is a derivative or adaptation, the substantial similarity analysis can be quite extensive. There is considerable case law delving into how much copying of a work is too much to be considered legal when a parody is considered infringement, and whether or not the secondary work can be considered “fair use” (a few issues among many, many others). The team at Pfeiffer Law Corp has extensive experience in analyzing substantial similarity, and we will apply that experience to your case.
Because attorney’s fees and statutory damages may be available for infringements of registered copyrights, copyright litigation can involve large sums of money. Additionally, copyright cases centering on registered copyrights will be tried in federal court, which involves the filing of the Complaint by the plaintiff, an Answer by the defendant, discovery, and depositions, and finally ending with a federal trial. In light of the high stakes of copyright litigation, you need experienced attorneys who can employ effective strategies that will help you get the result you want. Pfeiffer Law Corp has experience successfully litigating copyright cases in federal court and will draw on that experience to get the best result for you.
Copyright Lapse, Termination and Ownership
Copyrights also have a limited term of protection, which is usually measured by the life of the author plus seventy years (applying to most works created after 1978). After this window closes, the work will enter the public domain and anybody will be able to use elements of the work, whether or not they are substantially similar. Other factors can affect the enforceability of a registered copyright, including publication of the work without the proper formalities (depending on the date the work was created), whether the work was created as a part of a work for hire agreement, and whether certain rights have been licensed to others for use under limited conditions. Needless to say, these ownership issues can be very confusing. The team at Pfeiffer Law Corp is equipped with the knowledge and experience necessary to ensure compliance with the proper formalities and to help you determine copyright ownership.
If you have any questions regarding a copyright or a potential copyright claim, give us a call at (310) 451-5800.
This is a useful checklist that goes over copyright and what must be proven in a copyright infringement case.