Without a thorough understanding of copyright issues, your client may not adequately protect his or her valuable intellectual property. Unfortunately, copyright misinformation leads many artists astray and puts their creative works at risk.
Review these common myths about copyrights so you can make sure your client has the facts straight about IP protection.
The “poor man’s” copyright
This is perhaps the most pervasive myth about the copyright process. Your client cannot simply mail a copy of the work to his or her own home address as proof of copyright protection. You cannot use this type of “copyright” to prove a copyright infringement claim.
Protection without registration
While a work of art technically has copyright protection as soon as it takes a tangible form (a written manuscript, for example), you must have a certificate of registration from the U.S. Copyright Office to file a copyright infringement lawsuit. The nominal application fee for federal copyright comes with the right to receive monetary damages if you successfully prove infringement in court.
The difficulty of proving infringement
Many IP creators do not pursue damages for infringement because they believe it will be too costly and time-consuming to prove this type of claim in court. In fact, with this type of claim, the plaintiff must simply prove that he or she has valid copyright (illustrated by the registration certificate) that dates before the infringing content.
Debunking these myths can help your clients navigate the sometimes thorny world of copyright protection. When a cease-and-desist letter fails to stop infringement, you can take further measures to help companies assert their IP rights.