Monday, August 29, 2011

Copyright Infringement Basics - A Copyright Lawyer's Perspective

By Enrico Schaefer

Few legal principles inspire more confusion than copyright law. Our copyright lawyers often spend as much time educating our clients as we do digging into their specific legal issues. Copyright law, like other intellectual property rights, is inevitably fact specific. Obtaining legal advice about your specific situation from a qualified copyright attorney is critical. Educating yourself about US copyright law so that you understand what your lawyer is telling you is just as important.

Copyright infringement is the unauthorized use of material that is covered by US copyright law, in a way which violates one of the copyright owner's exclusive rights, such as the right to reproduce or perform the copyrighted work, or to make derivative works. A copyright holders exclusive rights include the right to: reproduce the copyrighted work; prepare derivative works based upon the work; distribute copies of the work to the public; perform the copyrighted work publicly; and display the copyrighted work publicly.

In order to prove a copyright violation of these exclusive rights under U.S. law, a copyright holder copyright holder must show that he/she is the "owner" of an original work and a prima facie case for infringement. Ownership of a copyright is established by showing "authorship" of an original work fixed in a tangible medium - articles, books, pictures, movies, musical recordings, etc. The person who created the original work is the copyright holder. A copyright holder may 'assign' the copyright to a third person, who then has all the exclusive rights of the original author, including reproduction, performance or the making of derivative works. The issue of who actually owns a copyright is one of the most overlooked and oversimplified issues. Some employers assume they own copyrights to their employees work. Employees and independent contractors sometimes incorrectly assume that they own work prepared for third parties. Ownership issues need to be identified and clarified early. Simply claiming ownership or an original work and registering the copyright may leave your copyright registration open to attack at a later date when rights are being asserted.

US Copyright laws help define the basics of copyrights. Section 17 U.S.C. § 102(a) provides: "Copyright protection subsists, in accordance with this title, in original works of authorship fixed in any tangible medium of expression, now known or later developed, from which they can be perceived, reproduced, or otherwise communicated, either directly or with the aid of a machine or device." An idea is not copyrightable , although it might be patentable. Expression of an idea in a fixed tangible form (i.e., in written pages of a book, on a CD, on a web page, on canvas, as a printed photograph) affords the possibility of copyright protection. While these principles sound complicated, an experienced copyright lawyer can help you understand whether you can copyright protect your original work and receive the protection which copyright law affords.

Infringement occurs when a third person copies the copyright protected work. Unauthorized copying is proved with direct evidence (sometimes copying is obvious or admitted) or inference (not surprisingly, infringers often deny copying). Circumstantial evidence of copying is often important to show infringement.

Registration of a your original work with the US Copyright office is not required for you to have common law rights. However, registration is often critical for enforcement and must occur before filing an infringement suit in Federal Court. Our copyright lawyers often receive calls from authors of original work who failed to register their works before learning of infringement. This can be a critical mistake making enforcement challenging or impossible.

Copyright claims are on the upswing as the internet makes 'copying' as easy as the click of a mouse. Original works are harder than ever to protect. Luckily, innovations in technology makes tracking infringement almost as easy as unauthorized copying. But you aren't protected if you are not monitoring. Owners of original works need to understand how to register their works, as well as how to track on-line infringement in order to maintain their value as the author.

Enrico Schaefer is a copyright lawyer, specializing in intellectual property matters and on-line protection. Go to his web site to learn more about US copyright law or contact a copyright infringement lawyer directly for a free consultation, as well as the particular problems presented by on-line infringement.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Google Images for Royalty Free Photos?

By Stephen Browne

Searching Google Images is a great way to locate very targeted photos, artwork, drawings, logos, banners, and just about any other type of graphical image you can imagine.

With Google's Advanced Image Search feature, anyone can quickly find niche images segregated by types such as faces, photos, clip art, and line drawings.

In addition, image searches based on your desired niche key words can be filtered by exact size, aspect ratio, file type, black and white vs. color, Internet site, and usage rights.

It is with this last filter that I want to draw your attention.

Most Internet users should know that there are serious copyright infringement issues that keep the public from simply copying and re-using other people's work.

Nowhere is it easier to copy and steal another's hard work than online.

Copyright does not merely protect the written word.

You see, images and photos are also copyrighted as are various mediums of artwork, banners, buttons, headers, e-covers, web designs, and on and on.

For the most part, the images you will find as a result of searching on Google Images will be copyright protected. In fact, you should assume all are.

You are forewarned that copying and re-using these images can get you in a heap of trouble!

There is an exception, however, and that is what I want to bring to your attention.

In Google Image's Advanced Search feature is a filter that allows the user to look for images with certain "Usage Rights."

I have spoken to very few people who actually know about this little gem.

By filtering for usage rights, you can ask Google to limit your image search to only images that are:

  • not filtered by license
  • labeled for reuse
  • labeled for commercial reuse
  • labeled for reuse with modification
  • labeled for commercial reuse with modification
  • Let's do a quick search for some niche images to see what we can find.

Let's say I have a new web site all about baking cookies and I want some images for the site as well as my soon-to-be-released book I'm going to title: Chocolate Chip Cookies -- 101 Best Recipes.

We go to Google Images ( ), click on the Advanced Image Search, and set the "find results" filter to "related to the exact phrase" then type in our key word phrase "chocolate chip cookies."

For our purposes here we will not filter by image size, aspect ratio, coloration, etc.

But we will filter the Usage Rights to return images that are "labeled for commercial reuse with modification."

By using this filter, we should be able to find some great images that we can crop, re-size, add text to, etc.

In other words, we can modify the image for our own commercial purposes and publish it to our web site, the new book, our advertising campaigns, etc.

The search returned 105 results. Upon reviewing the images, many are not what I would want, but there are still some great looking, very professional images that I wouldn't hesitate to reuse.

Obviously, if you are not intending to use the image commercially, you will have more search results returned (this particular search filtered with "labeled for reuse" returned 198 results).

There are a number of good royalty free image sites online that you shouldn't overlook if you need some graphical images for your projects.

Now you can add Google Images to your list even if you have commercial intent. Just be sure to use the proper Usage Rights filter depending upon how you intend to make use of the image in your project.

You need help to create and run a successful online business. Steve Browne is educated, trained, and experienced in offline and online business creation and management and he is sharing his insights and guidance freely in his new money making blog. Join his blog subscriber list today and you'll receive a free copy of "Art of Money Getting" to help you get started. No cost, no obligation, no fluff, no sweat! Click on this link now to find help for your own profitable online business.

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How to Research the Copyright Status of a Book

  1. By Steven Chabotte
  2. When seeking US published works in the public domain, there is a gray area from 1923 to 1963 where the book may or may not be in the public domain. To determine if a book with a copyright in that date range is in the public domain and freely usable, take the following steps.
  3. Some background on copyright length in the United States
  4. Created 1-1-78 or after - Life + 70 years1(or if work of corporate authorship, the shorter of 95 years from publication, or 120 years from creation
  5. Published before 1923 - In the public domain
  6. Published from 1923 - 1963 - 28 years + could be renewed for 47 years, now extended by 20 years for a total renewal of 67 years. If not so renewed, now in public domain.
  7. Published from 1964 - 77 - 28 years for first term; now automatic extension of 67 years for second term
  8. Created before 1-1-78 but not published - Life + 70 years or 12-31-2002, whichever is greater
  9. Created before 1-1-78 but published between then and 12-31-2002 - Life + 70 years or 12-31-2047 whichever is greater

There is one other issue to be aware of - and that is derivative works. For instance, you may find a current book that is apparently a reprint of a public domain book that bears a copyright notice. You may think that because the original book is public domain that this book should be too. Don't let yourself get caught in that trap and use material from this copyrighted book. The way copyright works is that you can create a derivative work from an original public domain work and copyright that derivative work.

The original book is still public domain but the derivative work would not be. If you want to use this material, you must find the original book and use that as your basis because you can never be sure what was changed/edited in the derivative work and if you start copying it, you may fall afoul of a copyright violation.


If you find a useful book published before 1923, that is great. You don't need to do any verification work to create your product. However, if the book was copyrighted between 1923 and 1963, it may still be under copyright. Estimates are that only 15% of all materials copyrighted in this period were renewed so there is a TON of material available for your use in this period. And much of that material was equivalent to best sellers today so there are many hidden gems out there just waiting to be freshened up and revealed to the world again.

So how do you verify the copyright expiration of one of these books?

There are three approaches you can take. You can do it yourself, hire a law firm to do a search or have the copyright office perform a search for you.

Do it yourself

Doing it yourself is pretty easy but can be a bit time consuming.

If the book was copyrighted between 1950 and 1963, you can perform an online search at the copyright office at this link: This database contains copyright information from 1978 to the current date. Therefore it is limited to doing searches on books copyrighted from 1950 onward. (1950 + 28 = 1978 which is the year a book copyrighted in 1950 would have been renewed.)

If the book was published between 1923 and 1949, you can go to The Catalog of Copyright Entries. This is a manual search through a large number of alphabetic digitized images. It is a slow process but it is effective. Just to be complete, it is always a good idea to take a few minutes to check a few years around the year plus 28 just in case the renewal fell into another year.

As you do your research, you should print a copy of all the negative results and keep it in a folder as evidence of doing a copyright search.

Have the Copyright office do the search for you

The copyright office will perform a copyright search for you. They do charge an open fee (on an hourly basis) for performing the search and they do take a very long time (typically 6-12 weeks) so while this is an option, it is not a very popular option.

Hire a law firm

You can hire a law firm like Thompson & Thompson to perform a copyright search for you. It is reasonably priced and you will get a detailed report of the results of the copyright search that they performed. The search is reasonably priced and gives you the added security of having a law firm claiming that the copyright is expired and that the work is in the public domain in case there are disputes down the road.

Never perfect

Like any system, searching an expired copyright is not perfect. There may be other claims on a published work or errors and omissions in the copyright files due to human errors. Always keep good records of your search activities to protect yourself on that one in a million chance that there was an unknown claim on the work you choose to work with.

Take action now!

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How to Copyright or Trademark Your Business

by Tamara Garrison Thomas

In my business consulting, I have found that a lot of people do not know the difference between copyright and trademark. They do not know how to copyright a logo, website, blog or business name. Or in using the actual term, TRADEMARK their business. I used 'copyright' in the title because most people confuse the two. However, as I researched this subject I found out some interesting things...

Copyright is actually not the same as a trademark. According to the U.S. Copyright Office, a copyright provides protection for original works in the realms of music, poetry, movies, literature, etc. In fact, copyright exists as soon as the publication exists. It is just advised to register your publication with the U.S. Copyright Office for legal purposes. Some people also like to publish the copyright facts on their publications and make sure there is a public record. Registration fees vary from $35 to $80. It cost more money to renew, get copies, or search copyright records. Believe it or not, people steal ideas so you want to make sure you are protected. And for a mere $35 at least, I'd say it's a good idea to make sure your writings are safe, LEGALLY.

Now to the good stuff. A trademark is what is used to protect patents, trademarks, and ideas. This is handled in the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). So, a business name, logo, or even business idea would fall under the trademark category. It is often confused with copyright but now you know the difference. The reason you would want to register for a trademark is to get legal use of a service mark (™, SM ,®) for your word, phrase, symbol, or design.

The benefits of getting the service mark is to protect your name. To keep people from stealing your ideas. Just like with copyright, if you claim ownership, you can use the ™ and SM symbols on your business name or logo at any time. But owning the federal trademark registration obviously has it's benefits legally. Some of which include, being able to defend your logo in federal courts, being listed in the USPTO database, and the use of the ® symbol. YES! You MUST be registered with the USPTO to use that symbol on your logos, etc. You cannot even use it if your application for registration is pending. So, there are great benefits to registering your business name and logo.

Now, keep in mind, the USPTO has the right to deny your registration application. Especially if there's a similar logo. So, you need to research and make sure your business name and logo are UNIQUE and fit federal regulations. When filing an application for trademark registration (or to get a service mark) you must file one application per category(class) you the need the service mark for. FOR EXAMPLE, if you need a service mark for a t-shirt logo AND for the store marquee, you must submit two applications. Application fees vary from $275-$325, depending on the type of application you submit.

I know it sounds a bit complex and confusing but registering your business name and logo are so worth the protection. Especially if you're an owner that offers services/goods, merchandiser, designer, or inventor that's about to BLOW UP! You can of course find out more and get an application at

For help on a business plan and development contact us today!

Tamara Garrison-Thomas

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Legal Music For YouTube - Four Ways to Address Client Concerns About Copyrights

By Mike Bielenberg

Let's assume you are a creative professional being compensated to create a video for a client. Let's also assume your client will NOT be broadcasting the video on television nor distributing it on DVD, but WILL be distributing the video on the internet (their website, YouTube etc), presenting it at meetings and even showing it at a trade shows. Let's also assume that you, the creative expert, are expected to handle any and all copyright clearances for the video, including the soundtrack.

How do you ensure your soundtrack is cleared for all these uses and that no embarrassing copyright issues will emerge down the road? The digital marketplace offers lots of music that can be used without paying any license fees, but there will always be a direct relationship between the amount you pay to use a piece of music and the amount of control you (or your client) have over that music. For example, that $0.89 you spent on iTunes for a Van Morrison single only allows you to enjoy that song on your iPod...and nothing else. But move that decimal point four places to the right and you can probably use it in your independent film until the cows come home. Here's the breakdown of everything in between:

I. Royalty-free music libraries

(*Full disclaimer: I co-own a royalty-free production music library).

For as little as $10, a production music library will deliver a high rez version of a piece of music to you along with a license document (or at least a receipt) that lists both you and your chosen track specifically. Because you're getting compensated by your client, it would be valuable for you to have a paper trail like this. Most royalty-free libraries will even conduct the music search for you at no charge. They know their library better than you. So why sift through thousands of tracks when you should be editing video?

What's the catch? Most stock music libraries won't carry famous songs that your client knows. They may carry "sound-a-likes", but that information definitely won't be listed on their website. You have to discuss that directly with a sales rep.

Also, a royalty-free music library is the most expense solution offered here. $10 is definitely the bottom of the price range whereas the average price is probably between $30 and $50 per track. If your client is willing to pay this fee in return for a relatively high degree of control over their music, then this is your best option.

II. Your own video software

I recently edited together a family video using iMovie and Soundtrack Pro and entered it into an online contest. While there wasn't a huge library of tracks, I quickly found something that worked well and incorporated it into my video quickly.In order to stay competitive, many video software makers completely buy out the copyrights to instrumental music tracks and bundle them with their product. Soundtrack Pro's license agreement reads as follows:

"You may broadcast and/or distribute your own soundtracks that were created using the Audio Content, however, individual audio files may not be commercially or otherwise distributed on a standalone basis, nor may they be repackaged in whole or in part as audio samples, sound files or music beds." That type of license should work fine for your project.

What's the catch? Selection. I've worked for organizations that bought copyrights outright and I can say from experience that a collection that is "wholly-owned" can never be as dynamic, large or comprehensive as a user contributed music library. You're at the mercy of what content Apple is willing to acquire. It's easy for libraries like that to become "stale" and overused.

III. YouTube's AudioSwap

YouTube's approach to copyright infringement has evolved into a simple ultimatum given to all major labels and movie studios: YouTube's software will block their copyrighted content, but wouldn't they rather just let it happen and share the ad revenue?

The answer from many of the major record labels is "yes".

Therefore, you could theoretically synchronize your client's video with Aerosmith's "Dream On" in hopes that Columbia records lets you slide on copyright infringement. Just be sure to cross both fingers and kiss a rabbit's foot as you upload the video.

In order to offer a less risky alternative, YouTube has received permission from lesser known bands and musicians to create an online music library from which creative professionals like yourself can choose a track from that library and let YouTube automatically synchronize the music track with your video. Some of these tracks are fairly well known.

What's the catch? Your video will ONLY play with that music on YouTube's website. And the music rights holder controls which ads run alongside your video. If your client plans to include this video in an email campaign or just embed it on their website, that may not be a deal breaker. But they ever want to present the video at a meeting or gathering of any kind, they'll need to ensure the location has an Internet connection.

In order to use this music for free, your client is essentially entering into partnership with this rights holder to help them earn more ad revenue for their song. Also, the rights holders of this music can withdraw their music from YouTube, and thus your video, at any time. Your client may ultimately be ok with these risks, but you should at least make them aware.

IV. Creative Commons

I've included this option last because Creative Commons rights are both complicated and, in sprit, not always supportive of commercial usage. There are no less than six (!) types of Creative Commons licenses. Assuming your client intends to directly or indirectly generate revenue from this video, you'll have to confine your music search to tracks that fall under the license called "Attribution-Only".You may find a "diamond in the rough" from this subset of music available through Creative Commons, but be aware that "Attribution" means you must credit the artist at some point in the video. Most clients are ok with that.

V. Conclusion

It's all about choosing what kind of parameters you and client are most comfortable working within: lack of control (AudioSwap or outright infringement), a music license that may cost up to $50 (stock music libraries) or a limited selection (creative commons or your video software).

Mike Bielenberg is a professional musician and co-founder of, a production music marketplace where media producers and business owners can license high-quality, affordable royalty-free music from an online community of musicians.

Using Creative Commons in Conjunction With Article Marketing

By Jason Bacot

"Creative Commons" is a relatively new search concept that many of the major search engines are utilizing lately. Yahoo, Google, and Firefox have launched Beta versions of the "Creative Commons" search feature and they have been steadily increasing in popularity recently. The goal of this feature is to locate content posted on the Internet that carries a "Creative Commons" type of license. Content carrying this license can be shared with others and is of great benefit to article marketers all over the world because it greatly increases their exposure.

Exposure is very important to article writers because without it, their visibility is very limited. Articles given a "Creative Commons" license can be published on many different websites, thereby greatly increasing the writer's exposure. In addition, submitting these articles to the major search engines that are using the "Creative Commons" search feature will get the articles distributed to a huge number of people.

There are a few things you must do, however, in order to submit your articles to the search engines carrying the "Creative Commons" search features. First, you must decide upon the type of license you need by going to the creative commons website and studying the different types.

Next, you will need to decide if you would like to permit your articles to be used commercially, as well as if you would want to let your articles be modified in any way by the sites using them. You will be asked to make these decisions before proceeding so think about this beforehand and be prepared. Once you do this, you will need to select your license.

After these first two steps are completed, you will be directed to a page that will instruct you to cut and then copy some text displayed there. You will be able to paste this copied text onto your own website. The copied text will state that your articles now have a "Creative Commons" type of license.

Before making the decisions in the second step, you need to think carefully. It really makes no sense to allow others to modify your articles. Modification could render them confusing and less valuable. If you have worked hard to make your article persuasive and magnetic, you don't want someone coming along that will cut out or change part of it. This could change it in such a way that would render it useless. If you are trying to build your reputation so that you can increase your customer base, you should not allow anyone to modify your work. Doing so could really bring harm to what you are trying to do. Keep in mind, too, that "Creative Commons" licenses cannot be revoked. Once you make the decision regarding type and preferences, you won't be able to change it.

Once your decisions are made and you have the license displayed on your website, the "Creative Commons" search engines should start picking it up within two to three weeks. Make sure you place some well-thought-out back-links in various places on the web. These measures will cause many links to be created that will point directly to your website. You should really take advantage of the exposure the "Creative Commons" license will provide for you if you want your business to experience significant growth.

Want to learn more about Article Marketing and How to Make Money Online, then check out our Article Marketing SEO Service to get started.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Copyright Registration Is Not A Pre Condition To Protection

by John J Tormey III, Esq -

Contrary to the near-indefatigable lay assumption that entertainment attorneys like myself hear all the time, one is not required to register a copyright in one's work with the U.S. Copyright Office (USCO) at the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C. (or elsewhere) as a condition precedent for U.S. copyright protection. In other words, the New York-based author in Chelsea, for example, already has copyright protection in his or her finished original work of authorship, under U.S. federal law, just as soon as the work is reduced to a tangible medium of expression in New York. That copyright protection is automatic, and inheres in the Chelsea-situate New York author immediately, his or her entertainment lawyer will opine.

Therefore, when the New York entertainment attorney hears the Chelsea-based New York writer saying "I 'copyrighted' my novel by registering it with the Library of Congress and the Copyright Office in Washington, D.C.", the writer is usually operating under a mistaken set of geographic and legal assumptions. It is incumbent upon entertainment lawyers to correct those assumptions. This one is a particularly difficult myth to explode - because members of Congress, those that write and edit case law, and a few jurisprudential scholars have been known to use "copyrighted" as a verb form, too. When I hear it, it sounds to me like nails on a chalkboard.

So, "No", the New York entertainment attorney replies to the New York writer in Chelsea, "you already had automatic copyright protection in your work as soon as you wrote down the text - as soon as you reduced your vision to a 'tangible medium of expression'. Your act of mailing it from a post office on Manhattan's West Side in New York City, to Washington D.C., isn't what engendered the copyright. Rather, your prior act of crystallizing it in a tangible medium here in downtown West Side New York - pen to paper, or keystroke to hard-drive - is what caused the copyright in your work to be born. The New York entertainment attorney then explains that the phrases and verb forms "to copyright" or "I copyrighted" should probably be avoided outright - certainly avoided as synonyms for "registration" or "filing" - specifically to prevent that kind of lay confusion. After all, if the Chelsea screenwriter in New York "copyrighted"[sic] his or her work only by mailing it to Washington D.C. on Friday morning, then that would imply that no copyright yet existed in the work when he or she completed the final draft, hit the "Save" button on his keyboard, and printed it out in hard-copy form in his or her Chelsea home office in Manhattan on the Thursday evening prior - and that conclusion would be legally incorrect. In that fact pattern, the entertainment lawyer opines, the copyright existed and the screenwriter owned it as of Thursday evening based upon the events that happened in downtown West Side New York.

The process of U.S. copyright registration is just an after-occurring formality, though it is one which entertainment attorneys (from New York, and yes, even elsewhere in places like Hollywood) handle for their clients often. In other words, the work is already copyright-protected prior to one's mailed submission of the work from New York or any other city, to the U.S. Copyright Office and Library of Congress in Washington, D.C. Yes, U.S. copyright registration does thereafter provide certain advantages over unregistered works, as your entertainment lawyer will tell you. But copyright registration is not itself a pre-requisite for copyright protection. The copyright protection exists first. The copyright filing comes second.

After all, the USCO form specifically asks the filer when - in what year - his or her work was completed. You could in theory file in 2011 for a 2006-completed work. In that case, the copyright would have existed as of 2006.

Under the U.S. Copyright Act, (which can be found at various locations on the Internet, at 17 United States Code [U.S.C.] Section 101 and following), the author of an original and otherwise-protectable work automatically possesses a copyright in that work as soon as the work is reduced to a "tangible medium of expression". No later.

The New York choreographer on Manhattan's West Side improvises a new set of dance steps for her students - fleeting, in the air - but owns no copyright in these movements or their performance or rendition. However, the moment she writes down the original dance steps using a detailed graphic chart, or videotapes herself performing them in her New York studio - perhaps at her entertainment lawyer's suggestion - she may then have a chance to claim some copyright-protected work. The key, again, is the work's reduction to a fixed medium. In fact, she may own the copyright in that material without ever interacting with Washington, D.C. - even though her entertainment attorney will tell her that it sure would be a good idea to thereafter mail a filing to D.C. if the original work of authorship is perceived to have any economic or other long-term value.

And this makes sense. Look at it from the perspective of copyright enforcement - from the perspective of the New York entertainment attorney litigator trying to prove or disprove copyright infringement in a court of law downtown at 500 Pearl Street. How difficult would the job be of a federal judge or jury in a U.S. copyright infringement litigation in the Southern or Eastern Districts of New York, or that of a U.S. Copyright Office Examiner in Washington, D.C., if the U.S. Congress allowed all of us to claim copyright in the inchoate and evanescent? The courts in New York and indeed nationwide would be inundated with strike suits and other spurious copyright claims, perhaps more often brought by pro se litigants rather than their entertainment lawyers if any. Therefore, Congress doesn't let us get away with it. Congress requires reduction to a "tangible medium of expression" as a pre-condition for copyright protection. But no, Congress does not require copyright registration as a pre-condition to copyright ownership itself - rather, copyright registration at or around the time of creation is discretionary with the copyright owner. Congress only requires copyright registration as a pre-condition to filing a lawsuit for copyright infringement - something that your entertainment lawyer litigator won't miss when reviewing the statute pre-filing of the federal court lawsuit.

Yes, your entertainment attorney will tell you that after-occurring copyright registration of a work does provide certain strategic advantages, relative to unregistered works. Copyright registration notifies those of us in New York, and in California, the U.S., and the rest of the world, at least constructively, that the copyright claimant thinks he or she owns the copyright in that registered work. Practically speaking, copyright registration creates a likelihood that another company including its own entertainment attorney performing a copyright search, will "pick up" (i.e., see, or notice) the previously-registered work, when that company or its entertainment lawyer counsel later conduct a thorough professional (or for that matter even a cursory and informal) ocular copyright search of the public records of the Washington, D.C.-based U.S. Copyright Office. Most film studios and their entertainment attorneys perform thorough copyright searches as a matter of course, for example, before optioning an author's literary work.

As discussed above, whether you live in New York, Los Angeles, or elsewhere, copyright registration with the U.S. Copyright Office in the Library of Congress in Washington D.C. is also a necessary precursor to your entertainment attorney litigator bringing a copyright infringement litigation in a U.S. federal court. For this reason, in practice, individuals and companies and their entertainment lawyers have been occasionally known to register their copyrights days - or even hours, paying an emergency rush filing fee using a New York-to-D.C. Fed Ex - before they sue for copyright infringement in federal court. Of course, the entertainment lawyer will tell you that it is better to register the work at an earlier stage than that. Filing a copyright infringement litigation predicated upon a USCO copyright registration in turn allows for the entertainment attorney litigator to recover certain types of damages afforded by the U.S. Copyright Act, such as "statutory" damages, and plaintiffs' attorneys fees. These types of damages would not be availing to the copyright plaintiff if his or her entertainment lawyer sued using a different common law theory. A copyright registration may also work advantages in terms of certain international copyright protections.

Click the "Articles" button at: to return to the main Articles page.


This article is not intended to, and does not constitute, legal advice with respect to your particular situation and fact pattern. Do secure counsel promptly, if you see any legal issue looming on the horizon which may affect your career or your rights. What applies in one context, may not apply to the next one. Make sure that you seek individualized legal advice as to any important matter pertaining to your career or your rights generally.

Copyright Registration Is Not A Pre-Condition To Protection
(C) John J. Tormey III, PLLC. All Rights Reserved.

My practice as a New York entertainment attorney includes copyright registration work in music, film, television, publishing, Internet, media, and all artistic fields. If you have questions about legal issues which affect your career, and require representation, please contact me:

Law Office of John J. Tormey III, Esq.
John J. Tormey III, PLLC
217 East 86th Street, PMB 221
New York, NY 10028
(212) 410-4142 (phone)
(212) 410-2380 (fax)