Copyrights Lawyers – Copyright is a type of intellectual property. It is a far-reaching right which holds significant commercial value for a business. It subsists in a wide range of business assets, from your logo and website to employee manuals and customer databases.
Copyright arises automatically; you do not need to register anything to benefit from protection. As with intellectual property law in general, however, copyright is a complex and ever-evolving legal landscape.
Copyrights lawyers specialise in the interpretation and application of copyright law and will help ensure your assets are properly safeguarded.
What is copyright?
Simply put, copyright allows the owner of a work to prevent third parties from copying it. A copyright owner has the exclusive right to deal with the work; to copy, distribute, adapt and display it, for instance. Copyright cannot protect an idea; it protects the expression of an idea. The idea must have been expressed in a tangible form; recorded in writing, for example.
Whilst intangible, copyright can be commercialised in the same way as other property. It can be assigned or licensed to third parties, often (but not always) in tandem with other intellectual property rights. A proper understanding of copyright and how it enhances the value of your business will allow you to monetise the relevant assets and maximise their commercial value. Copyrights lawyers will assist you in the protection and commercial exploitation of those assets protected by copyright and ensure they are properly managed.
Moral rights are a type of copyright, intended to protect an author’s integrity. Moral rights only apply to certain types of work, including literary, musical and dramatic. They cannot be commercially exploited by assignment or licence, but the owner can choose to waive them should they wish.
Examples of moral rights include the right to be recognised as the author of the work and the right to object to derogatory treatment of it.
What can copyright protect?
Copyright can protect original literary, dramatic, musical or artistic works; sound recordings, films or broadcasts and typographical arrangements of published works. Copyright has traditionally protected works in the creative industries, such as novels, songs, films, artwork and the like. In an ever-changing digital world, however, the nature and scope of copyright law has changed beyond recognition and whilst it still protects these traditional works, it is now called upon to safeguard a vast array of business assets, including
- Business Logos
- Instruction Manuals
- Marketing Literature
- Software code
- Website Content
- Letters and Emails
- Customer and other Databases
To obtain copyright protection, the work in question must be original. Unlike some other forms of intellectual property, the benchmark for originality is low. The work does not need to possess artistic or scientific merit; the creator merely has to have developed it through their own skill and effort. A copyright lawyer will advise on whether a particular asset is protected by copyright.
Any third party who uses a copyright work without the owner’s permission may be liable for copyright infringement and forced to pay damages.
How Long Does Copyright Last?
In the UK, the duration of copyright protection depends on the type of work in question. For literary works, for example, copyright lasts for 70 years from the end of the calendar year in which the author dies, whereas copyright in broadcasts expires 50 years after the end of the year in which it was made. A copyright lawyer will advise you on the period of protection relevant to your various assets.
Who Owns Copyright?
The basic presumption is that the copyright in a work is owned by the person who created it; so, the author of a book will own the copyright in it. A notable exception is where an employee produces work during his employment; in that instance, the copyright will vest in the employer.
How Do You Protect Copyright?
Unlike other intellectual property rights such as trademarks and patents, copyright arises automatically and without registration. It is, however, important to always keep a comprehensive record of when a work was created – if a third party accused of infringement denies copying, the creation time can be crucial. It is also advisable to mark your work with the copyright symbol ©, your name and the creation date.
What Do Copyright Lawyers do?
Copyright law is constantly evolving to keep pace with the advent of new technologies and changes in working habits. Copyright lawyers have an in-depth understanding of copyright practice and are experts in applying traditional laws to novel situations in an innovative fashion. They will advise on which existing assets benefit from copyright protection and the extent, nature and duration of your rights. A copyright lawyer can also help you to commercialise your copyright by negotiating contracts with third parties wishing to utilise it and pursuing any third party who does so without your consent.
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