Tag: Copyright


What Does a Copyright Protect?

While it may seem ridiculous to have to register your own ideas to own them, it isn’t really that complicated in the beginning; you are the owner of any expressions of artistic work as soon as you create them! Even without getting outside help or registering with a government entity such as the U.S. Copyright Office, a work of literature or music is instantaneously copyrighted to you. And while there may not be any paperwork to prove this, most likely you are in possession of the item and for anyone else to try and copyright it is either a highly coincidental occurrence or they have stolen the work from you.

Some individuals will take the extra step to create what is often referred to as a poor man’s copyright, mailing themselves a copy of a work or having it established with a notary and a signature and a date bearing evidence of the origins and date. Even that is not necessary though. As soon as you have written that screenplay, as soon as it is on paper with your name attached to it, the copyright is yours. It must, however, be a physical item—an idea or concept is not enough for a copyright and cannot be protected as such.

Intellectual property can be extremely valuable in some cases and should be protected. With the common law copyright, you are given some assurances that no one else can steal your work, but you could be on very shaky ground if you were forced to take legal action against another party for infringement. If you register your work, you then have exclusive rights to copy or distribute your work as you wish, make a sequel or follow-up work to the original, or display the work in the public or take it one step further by making a book or other expression into something like a play.

With proper registration, anyone infringing upon you could face penalties; in some cases, however, you may wish to license a copyright, trademark, service mark or other intellectual property to someone else, give permission for them to use your work, or you may even want to sell your copyrighted work. Other examples of works protected by copyright include:

  • Software programs
  • Architectural plans
  • Buildings
  • Choreography
  • Sculpture
  • Sound recordings

The Bolender Law Firm can assist you in all intellectual property matters. Call us at 310-320-0725 now or submit an easy consultation request online. We are here to help!

poor man's copyright

Poor Man’s Copyright: How Does It Work?

If you are a new business owner, protecting intellectual property whether through registering it or using the poor man’s copyright may not be at the top of your list; in fact, you may wonder if you even have anything to worry about yet. Priorities in a budding company usually revolve around raising and maintaining enough capital, building a strong team, and bringing in the customers. There is a lot more to consider for the long term though, and branding is an enormous part of that, with a logo or symbol or perhaps a slogan to put out there as you work to build familiarity within your market. Copyrights though usually apply to items that you have created in an even more artistic fashion, whether your firm publishes literature, produces architectural works, designs graphics, makes software, or more.

If you have already made something you would like covered by a copyright, it may be surprising to find out that as soon as you brought it into existence, it became your intellectual property. This type of common law protection or ‘poor man’s copyright,’ means that you do have a leg to stand on legally if someone else tries to steal your work, however, it may be difficult to fight infringement without a true copyright if your nemesis is aggressive and has plentiful resources. Some believe that the best way to establish a poor man’s copyright is to establish a date by mailing a copy to yourself and leaving it in an unsealed package, or to have it notarized, or other methods that show when you created an original work. That is unnecessary, though, as the copyright is yours as soon as you have written that cookbook or built an architectural structure or other artistic work.

Protecting intellectual property, whether it belongs to you as an individual or a business, is worth it. In most cases, many hours or months—or sometimes years—went into building an artistic work that could become vulnerable if others tried to use it without your permission. Consulting with a skilled intellectual property attorney means that you can do a search to make sure no one else has anything similar already registered, along with giving you protection that lasts for your lifetime, plus 70 years in most cases. This type of public record, established through the U.S. Copyright Office, should give you ample legal recourse if a question arises or if someone begins using the copyright without an agreement.

The Bolender Law Firm can assist you in all intellectual property matters. Call us at 310-320-0725 now or submit an easy consultation request online. We are here to help!