Pursuing Financial Compensation For Copyright Violations
There’s nothing more frustrating for artists than to have their works used without their permission and for someone else’s profit. If this has happened to you, I may be able to help.
As an intellectual property rights lawyer, I’ve been able to secure compensation for a variety of artists whose creative works have been infringed. This can happen through either licensing agreements or a successful lawsuit. If you are not sure what the best course of action is, I can assess your case and advise you on the best course of action to reach your goals.
Statutory And Actual Damages — What You Recover Depends On Whether You Copyrighted Your Work
There are two types of damages recoverable in a copyright lawsuit:
- Statutory damages
- Actual damages
If your work was used without permission within three months of publishing it and registering it with the United States Copyright Office, or if you registered your unpublished work prior to the theft, you may be entitled to recover statutory damages. Those damages may include:
- Up to $30,000 per infringement, starting at $200 for an innocent infringement
- Up to $150,000 per infringement, if the infringing use was willful
- Attorney’s fees and expenses
If you have not registered your work, you still own the copyright, but statutory damages are not allowed. Instead, you could sue for actual damages — meaning you’d have to prove the amount of economic loss you suffered because of the impermissible use. Before you can recover any monetary losses, you must first register your work with the United States Copyright Office. If you are looking to copyright your work yourself, I am here to assist when you run into a problem.
Licensing Your Copyright To Create An Income Stream
One of the most important economic engines for creators of copyrighted works is licensing the use of that work. Licensing also benefits the creator, because it establishes the range of economic loss to the creator from other unauthorized uses. I have negotiated effective and profitable licenses for my creator clients, both exclusive and nonexclusive, across all types of media. Often, what starts as unauthorized use can turn into a long-term licensing deal.
Common Questions Regarding Copyright Law
Copyrights are designed to protect various types of creative works, including but not limited to movies, music, books, software and business materials.
While filing for a copyright isn’t necessarily a challenging process, there are a variety of questions you must address. Here are some of the most common questions:
What is the difference between a copyright and patent?
Many people confuse the two, but there’s one primary difference. A copyright covers creative work itself, while a patent covers processes and products.
Is a copyright a necessity?
You’re under no legal obligation to file for a copyright, but it’s in your best interest if you want to protect against another party copying your creative work. For example, if you’re in the business of developing software, there may be times when you want to protect your intellectual property rights.
What are some of the things that a copyright doesn’t protect?
A copyright is unable to protect ideas, facts or discoveries. Instead, it’s only meant to protect the way these things are described.
Who is the owner of a copyright?
This depends on many factors, but it’s typically the person who creates the work. In the event that an employee creates the work as part of their job, the employer may own the copyright.
Does a copyright last forever?
Generally speaking, the answer is yes. For an individual, a copyright lasts for that person’s entire life, plus another 70 years. For anyone considered a non-person, the copyright lasts for the shorter of 120 years from creation or 95 years of first publication.
Just because you file for a copyright doesn’t mean you’ll receive approval. And even if you do receive approval, it doesn’t necessarily mean that others will respect it.
If you’re going to take the steps to obtain a copyright, you should get serious about protecting it against infringement. This occurs when another party infringes on your exclusive rights without permission.
It doesn’t matter if you’re filing for a copyright or protecting it against infringement, it’s imperative to understand your legal rights in California.
Contact A Skilled Attorney
If you are the owner of a registered copyright or you are interested in negotiating a licensing deal that protects your ownership rights, Fergus, A Law Office, can help. Call me today at 866-256-5487 or contact my office online. From my office in San Francisco, California, I represent clients nationwide.