Copyrights can be an important asset to an individual or business. A copyright is a set of exclusive rights granted to the author or claimant of an original work, including the right to copy, distribute and adapt the work. Under the United States copyright law, an original work of authorship fixed in a tangible form of expression is entitled to copyright protection. A work is fixed in a tangible medium of expression “when its embodiment in a copy, by or under the authority of the author, is sufficiently permanent or stable to permit it to be perceived, reproduced, or otherwise communicated for a period of more than transitory duration.” 17 U.S.C. § 101. Software, paintings, architectural plans, and boat designs, are just a few examples of works that may be entitled to copyright protection.
Under United States common law, an original work may be entitled to copyright protection even though such work has not been registered with United States Copyright Office. However, a lawsuit based upon copyright infringement cannot be filed unless a work is registered with the Copyright Office. The attorneys at The Plus IP Firm have years of experience in registration of copyrights. If you need to register a work with the Copyright Office, the attorneys at The Plus IP Firm are available to assist you.
In addition to being a prerequisite in order to file a lawsuit based upon copyright infringement, copyright registration does have several advantages in litigation. The Copyright Act has a fee shifting provision that allows a plaintiff to recover reasonable attorney’s fees and costs for having to bring a lawsuit against a defendant based upon copyright infringement. The default rule in litigation in the United States is that each party bears their own costs regardless of which party ultimately prevails in the lawsuit. Under the fee shifting provision of the Copyright Act, attorney’s fees are available to a copyright owner if a work is timely registered. 17 U.S.C. § 412. This fee shifting provision can be a significant advantage for a copyright owner in litigation.
Timely registration of a work also allows for a copyright owner to recover statutory damages from an infringer. Statutory damages is a remedy that allows a plaintiff to recover damages without having to prove actual damages. Under the copyright act, the amount of statutory damages can be between $750.00 to $30,000.00 per work and up to $150,000.00 if a defendant’s infringement was willful. As a result, statutory damages can also be effectively used as leverage to achieve a favorable settlement against an infringer of a work that is timely registered. The attorneys at Plus IP Firm have successfully enforced the copyrighted works of their clients as well as defended clients in copyright infringement lawsuits. The Plus IP attorneys are available to answer any questions that you have regarding copyright law.