Understanding the Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) law is an essential skill for the businesses right from their inception. This can be attributed to intellectual inputs involved in creating a product or a brand.
When someone creates a product, technology, or any other new works, they can have their work protected under IPR law. The IPRs include patent, trademark, copyright, and trade secret. Whether one wants to protect his/her creation or want to use someone else’s work, it is important to have a thorough understanding of which type of Intellectual Property they are dealing with.
This article throws light on some basic concepts of This Law like: what this law protects, how it grants protection, and more.
What Does Copyright Law Protect?
It protects creative works that have been written and recorded, such as books, music, movies, songs, paintings, photographs, sculptures, computer programs, maps, technical drawings, and more.
Salient Features Of Copyright Law:
- Idea Expression Dichotomy: It does not protect the idea behind a creation. It only protects the material form of the idea. For instance, while filmmakers can’t make their own version of the movie ‘Lord of The Rings’, they can write their own fantasy adventure story with a hero narrative and make a movie on it. Here, fantasy adventure and hero narrative are ideas, and anyone can make a movie using them by expressing this idea differently. Legal giants refer to this feature of it as a standard step to determine infringement.
- Fixable in a tangible medium: The work which needs to be copyrighted should be available in a tangible medium. Tangible mediums may include: books, as soft copy on screen like e-mails, in a compact disc, on a paper like a photograph. It does not protect titles, numbers, names, phrases, slogans. etc.
- It does not protect works whose copyright term has expired and which, now, can be used by anyone in the public domain.
How Does It Work?
When a business owner creates and records something, it automatically comes under its protection. It is an automatic right which means if you are working with others to create something new and you and co-workers don’t already have an agreement in place, all of you will be entitled to get the ownership of the work [provided you are a part of the authorship.
A product owner’s work will still come under its protection with the US Copyright Office, even if they haven’t registered with the office. However, by registering their work with the US Copyright Office, they can enjoy benefits such as statutory damages and attorney’s fees in case they need to file a case in the court to carry out their copyright. A business owner can put a its symbol with their work to let others know who owns the work.
Registering For Copyright Protection
Registering a business owner’s work under it becomes a lot more beneficial if their work has a high market value. They might find it difficult to acquire the services of a lawyer willing to take their case unless they have registered their work with the Copyright office before someone copied their work without their official consent or within 90 days of publishing of the work. With Prompt registration, the availability of high statutory damages and attorney’s fees might entice a lawyer to take up a business owner’s case.
Some attorneys take little or no fees. But the actual owner would have to pay a share of the damage award if he or she wins the case. Thus, it is up to them if they want to register their work with it or not, especially if the work is highly valuable. You would want to think about which of your works is worth the registration.
Does A Business Owner Need A Lawyer To Register Their Work For Copyright Protection?
Lawyers can help a business owner with its protection registration process. However, in many cases they can do it by themselves. A product owner can register with the US Copyright Office online, making the whole process a lot quicker and affordable. They will have to answer some questions to complete the process.
However, if the work has been created by more than one person, works such as creating music, computer codes, etc., the copyright protection registration process might become complicated. Here a lawyer could help you finish the whole process smoothly.
Duration Of Copyright Protection
Its protection continues for a very long time. Many works that have been created after 1978 are protected under this law for the lifetime of the creator and 70 years more, courting from the year following the demise of the creator. Anything created before 1978 will have a different protection duration. Copyright laws are territorial like any other IPR law. Every country has its own term of protection. For example: In India its term is the life of the author plus 60 years from the beginning of the calendar year following the year in which the author dies.
Rights Under Copyright Protection
This law allows the owners six exclusive rights, including:
- To reproduce their copyrighted work
- To create new versions of their original copyrighted work
- To distribute their copyrighted work in public
- To perform their copyrighted work on a public platform such as a concert, television show etc.
- To perform their copyrighted sound recordings through a digital medium.
The owner might sign away, transfer, or license their rights to another party. If someone wants to use any of these rights, they need to make sure that they have permission obtained in the prescribed manner from the owner.
What you have learned so far are just a few basics about this law. Hopefully, this will give you a foundation to register your creative works with ease and more knowledge. If you want more information, you can visit the official website of The US Copyright Office.
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