US Copyright Attorneys: Understand Your Rights

September 1st, 2009

United States Copyright Attorney

Our copyright attorneys can help you understand your rights under U.S. Copyright law.  Whether you are the victim of copyright infringement, or the target of an infringement threat or take down letter, you need experienced trial attorneys on your side. We handle copyright infringement litigation across the United States with attorneys licensed in  California, Washington D.C., Virginia, Maryland, Michigan and in other U.S. states on a pro hac vice basis.

If you have a copyright issue, or wish to register a copyright, you may contact one of our experienced copyright attorneys for a free evaluation or call 866.936.7447 (International Toll Free).

Copyright Resources:

Copyright matters handled for our clients:

  • Our attorneys are representing in copyright infringement litigation on behalf of a major 5 star resort chain in Mexico for copying web site content.  The claims are brought under US Copyright law in Florida federal court .
  • Our attorneys are representing an artist with registered copyrights over his designs being copied by another vendor.  The suit involves copyright claims under U.S. copyright law in federal court in Tennessee including statutory damages claims of $150,000 per instance, plus attorney fees.
  • Our attorneys are representing plaintiffs in copyright litigation on behalf of an author whose work was copied by a major broadcast network as a popular television series. The case is being brought in federal court in Detroit, Michigan.
  • We handle copyright infringement threat letters and take down notice issues under the DMCA on behalf of numerous clients.
  • Our attorneys draft DMCA take down policies for web site owners publishing thrid party content.

Chances are, we can help you as well.  Contact us at 866.936.7447 (International Toll Free).

When you are Sued, Now What?

January 4th, 2013

What should you do if you are accused of copyright infringement?  First of all, you must evaluate the merit of the claim whether you actually infringe the copyright or not.  If you are so sure that you create the work yourself, then you can ignore such claim.  In this blog, we will assume that you are not sure whether you infringe others’ copyrights.

First, you must evaluate the seriousness of the claim (i.e. how much money damage the other party wants).  If it is minor, you can avoid tedious lawsuit by settling it for a few hundred dollars.  We do not recommend you to see a lawyer at this time because the attorney’ fees are likely to be more than a few hundred dollars used for settlement.  If you successfully settle the copyright infringement claim with the copyright holder, make sure that you get a letter or a contract releasing you from liability in return for your payment.  You do not want to pay for this settlement fees and then get sued later because the other party falsely states to the court that there is no settlement effort.  On the other hand, if a copyright owner asks for substantial amount of money for his copyright infringement, you should definitely hire a lawyer.  If you are served with a complaint, you have only 20 days to file an answer to the court.  We strongly not recommend you to represent yourself unless you are a copyright infringement lawyer yourself.  If you fail to response in time, the court will normally enter a judgment against you and you have to pay the damages.  We encourage you to act fast and contact your copyright lawyers.

In making decision whether to settle the copyright infringement, you should consider:

  1. The likelihood that the copyright owner will win the lawsuit;
  2. The damages awarded in the case that the copyright owner wins and how much the copyright owner is willing to settle for; and
  3. The attorneys’ fees and other business reasons (for example, if you are a CEO and you making $1,000 an hour, you should not bother to go to court when a case at hand is asking for damages of $2,000.

 

Prevalence of Other Similar Works is Insufficient to Invalidate Copyright

January 3rd, 2013

To establish copyright infringement, a plaintiff must establish his ownership of a valid copyright.  That is, a plaintiff must show that his work is original.  The work must possess a minimal degree of creativity to be copyrightable.  A valid copyright registration creates a presumption of copyright validity.  This is sufficient evidence to establish that a plaintiff possesses a valid copyright.  In Donald A. Gardner Architects, Inc. v. Cambridge Builders, Inc. (E.D.N.C. 2011), the defendants presented similar third-party home designs that were downloaded from internet.  They claimed that they were so similar and generic that provided strong evidence that the designs authored by the plaintiff were unoriginal as there are so many ways to arrange common rooms and elements.  However, the court disagreed with this type of evidence.  Copyright registration creates a presumption of validity of copyright.  However, the court did not provide a strong reason to dismiss such type of evidence.  What the court hinted was that the prevalence of other similar works is insufficient to invalidate copyright that has been successfully registered. Read More »

Model, Equation, Figures are not Protected by Copyrights

January 2nd, 2013

A model is a tool to represent and describe reality for scientific purpose.  The value of the model is its ability to accurately explain the facts and the experiment.  When the model is an only tool used to explain facts, and ideas, the expression is said to be merged with the idea and thus the model is deemed uncopyrightable.

[The merger doctrine states that if an idea and the expression of the idea are so tied together that the idea and its expression are one (when the ideas can be only articulated by a very few expression) then the expression of the idea and the idea itself merge with each other making an expression uncopyrightable because the idea may not be copyrighted.  The merger doctrine prevents any one person from having a monopoly over an idea (which is the purpose of patent laws) when there are only limited ways of expressing the idea.]

 

Living Art is not Protected under VARA

December 29th, 2012

Recall that the Visual Artists Rights Act of 1990 (VARA), 17 U.S.C. § 106A, is a law that protects artist rights.  VARA grants protection to moral rights, the right that cannot be assigned, or transferred.   VARA applies to paintings, drawings, prints, sculptures, still photographic images produced for exhibition only.  According to VARA, works of art that satisfy certain requirements provide their authors with additional rights in the works (in addition to the right expressly stated in the Copyright Act), regardless of any subsequent physical ownership of the work itself, or regardless of who holds the copyright to the work at the time. Read More »

In Some States, Copyright is a Community Property

December 28th, 2012

Arizona, California, Idaho, Louisiana, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, Washington, and Wisconsin have community property laws.  In these states, a husband and a wife become joint owners of most types of property acquired during their marriage unless they agree otherwise and such agreement is not prohibited by laws.  Spouses are free to agree either before or during marriage that all or part of their property will be separately owned and therefore is not subject to community property restriction.  Such agreement must be in writing and signed by the spouse who gives up the community property interest. Read More »

Does a Copyright Holder Need to Record Copyright Transfers?

December 27th, 2012

No, a copyright owner does not need to record any copyright transfer, but it is strongly recommended that a copyright owner does so because it provides a great number of benefits.  Recordation of copyright transfer establishes legal priorities when there are multiples copyright transfers.  This enables prospective purchasers of copyright rights to search the Copyright Office’s transfer records to make sure that the copyright seller really owns what he or she is selling.  It also gives a public notice of the transfer.  That is, a subsequent transferee will normally lose out to a prior transferee who records first because such recordation gives the public the notice of the transfers.  The future transferee therefore cannot claim that he or she does not have knowledge when there is such recordation which serves as a notice.  For example, copyright recordation can resolve: Read More »

How to Designate an Agent for the DMCA Safe Harbor?

December 26th, 2012

Recall that, to be eligible for the DMCA safe harbor, an internet service provider (ISP) must adopt and reasonably implement, and inform users of a policy that provides for termination in an appropriate circumstance when the user infringes other people’s copyright.  It is also required that an ISP must not have either actual knowledge that its system contains infringing materials or an awareness of such circumstances.  An ISP must not receive a financial benefit from an infringing activity that it can control as well. Read More »

No Need to Search for Copyright Infringing Materials without a Specific Notice: the Case of Photobucket

December 25th, 2012

Photobucket.com is a famous website that hosts thousands of images that users have uploaded.  Users can freely share those pictures by providing the appropriate URLs and people with those URLs can freely access the photos.  In the lawsuit between Wolk v. Kodak Imaging Network, Inc. (S.D.N.Y. 2011), the U.S. District Court held that Photobucket.com was qualified for the DMCA safe harbor. Read More »

Minor Changes from Copyrighted Work Infringes Copyright

December 25th, 2012

In Nova Design Build, Inc. v. Grace Hotels, LLC (7th Cir. 2011), the Seven Circuit held that minor changes of the copyrighted work are insufficient to qualify as original.  Therefore the minimally modified works are not protected by copyrights.

In this case, the court held that Nova’s designs were essentially a slight variation of the standard Holiday Inn Express building plan which was protected by copyright.  The court held that the addition of an extra floor with the same layout, different door placements and other few items did not satisfy the minimal creativity that was required for originality requirement, according to the Copyright Act. Read More »

DMCA Misrepresentation Claim is Dismissed if the Takedown does not Take Place

December 24th, 2012

Pursuant to the DMCA and the takedown notice provision, if a copyright owner found that one of the allegedly infringing ’s materials is infringing his or her copyright or violating the DMCA, he or she can send a notice to the owner of that allegedly infringing work and require him or her to take the infringing material down.  For example, a music company may send a notice to YouTube in order to ask YouTube to remove the infringing video from the website.  However, the DMCA also provides a penalty if the claim for copyright infringement and DMCA violation is incorrectly sent or misrepresented. Read More »