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How to choose a copyright attorney: Featured Article

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If you have spent time creating a work, you deserve to have it protected from being stolen. If you want to protect your work with a copyright, patent, or trademark you will need a copyright attorney. Copyright attorneys specialize in published material, film, or art.

There are a number of different ways you can choose a copyright attorney. Follow the steps below:

Step #1
Start by asking your friends, family, and business associates for a referral. If you have a personal lawyer for other legal matters you can ask them for a referral for a lawyer who specializes in copyright law.

Step #2
Ask for experience information and specific case examples. You can find a copyright attorney from the Copyright Office. Your state bar association should provide a listing of copyright attorneys. Law schools should also have listings of copyright attorneys.

Preparing for the copyright attorney:
When you are meeting with the copyright attorney, you need to be prepared with a few documents. First, you need to write out how your copyright has been infringed. You must prove that someone has infringed your copyright. Having documentation that you tried to contact the person who infringed your copyright will help prove you tried to rectify the situation.





Helpful Resources:
Copyright Laws
This web site provides information about copyright laws and how you can find a copyright attorney. It gives you steps for selecting a copyright lawyer and what information you need to be prepared with before meeting with a lawyer.

Securing a Patent or Trademark
This article discusses how you can secure your patent or trademark. It also discusses why you may need a copyright attorney and how to secure a copyright attorney. It also discusses how you can select the proper copyright attorney.

U.S. Copyright Office
This web site is provided by the U.S. copyright office. It provides help in seeking a copyright attorney. It discusses how you can file a complaint with the FBI if you think your copyright has been infringed.

Wikipedia
This web site provides information about copyright infringement. It provides a brief overview and also provides specific examples of copyright infringement. It also discusses what piracy is and how it pertains to copyright laws.

Copyright Infringement
This web site defines copyright infringement and how it pertains to copyright law. It discusses the types of penalties that can be imposed for copyright infringement. It also provides steps you can take to avoid copyright infringement.

Tips for Copyrighting
This web site provides 4 tips for copyrighting your work. It is a brief overview of information you need to know if you are unsure of how to copyright your work and what rights you will have.

Full Service Copyright Help
This company provides full service copyright help. You are able to send them all your information and they will review it and complete all the necessary steps required to file your work for copyright.

Registering Your Copyright
This web site provides information about how a copyright attorney can help. It provides information about how to register your copyright, how to stop copyright infringement, and how you will be represented in court.

Copyright Attorney
This web site allows you to submit information about your case and will help you find a copyright attorney in your area. You can review information, cases, and other specific information about several copyright attorneys.

Patent Attorneys
This web site provides information about patent attorneys. It discusses how patent attorneys can also help in copyright cases and how you can find a patent attorney in your area.




You need to ask your copyright attorney several questions:

  • What rights are protected by a copyright and what kinds of work can be protected?

  •  What is the benefit to attaching a copyright to my work?

  •  How long does a copyright last?

  •  What copyrighted material can be considered "fair use"?


What is a copyright?
Before going into your meeting with your copyright attorney, be prepared with information about what a copyright is.

The copyright is owned exclusively by the author of the work, unless written permission is granted to other individuals. If you sign over the complete work to someone else, they become the copyright owner and can do what they wish with your work. Many companies have people working for them that create the work and are unsure of who the real copyright owner is. "Work for hire" is considered any work done by an employee of an organization. The employee is the copyright owner, however your company may require signed documentation that states all work created by that employee is owned and copyrighted by the company.

There are several reasons to copyright your work. If anyone has duplicated or stolen any piece of your work, you have the right to file a lawsuit against that person. In order to take legal action, you must register your work at the U.S. Copyright Office. The U.S. Copyright Office will send you a certification of registration showing you have physical proof of legal protection to your work.

By registering your copyright, it will also hold up in other countries that have established a copyright agreement with the United States. If you should choose not to register your copyright, you can still use the copyright sign or copyright symbol to inform people that you are aware of your legal rights.

The more you know about copyrights, the more prepared you can be to discuss your information with your copyright attorney.

What is copyright infringement?
Copyright infringement happens when someone copies another person's work without permission. Anyone who copies another's work without their permission can faces serious problems. Legal action can be taken against the offender and they can even face possible prison time. In today's society the most common forms of copyright infringement are the Web. The images and content on website's can easily be taken without the consent of the owner.

Copyright infringement should be taken very seriously. You must gain written permission from the owner of the copyright. If you have not gained the permission of the owner, you have violated the owner's copyright and they can seek legal action.

Several companies have legal teams who search for any copyright infringement. Again, the web is a common violator of copyrights. Fan websites often copy music, images, and other content without the permission of the owner. Several larger companies have people and spiders (web crawlers) that will search the Web for images and text. If they find anything matches their content, that web site will be flagged and reviewed for copyright infringement.

Of course, smaller companies may not have the necessary funds or man-power to search for copyright infringement. Many small companies learn about copyright infringement from word of mouth or by accident.

Legal Action for copyright infringement
A copyright attorney will take all information into consideration when filing a copyright infringement case. If it is website material, you can contact the website hosting company and inform them of copyright infringement. Most hosting companies will investigate the copyright infringement and tell their client that they must remove the copyrighted material. Most hosting companies will also remove their website or suspend it if they do not remove the content from their page.

Your copyright attorney will file the lawsuit with the following:


  • The issue order to prevent further use of copyrighted material

  •  The appropriate amount of damages their client should receive

  •  The appropriate amount of attorney fees the offender should pay

  • Most often the offender will use the following defenses:

  •  "Fair use"

  •  Innocent (such as a research paper or failure to know that the work was copyrighted)

  •  The copyright owner gave permission, but failed to sign the form

  •  Statute of limitations defense

If someone is found innocent, they will not have to pay legal damages, but they will have to remove the content, pictures, etc. immediately.

You may also contact the Intellectual Property Program of the Financial Institution Fraud Unit of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

The FBI will investigate a copyright infringement with one of the following divisions:

Cyber Division - They are in charge of all intellectual property crimes. This is digital and electronic works such as CDs, DVDs, Internet material, etc.

Financial Institution Fraud Unit
- This unit will handle all the intellectual property crimes that do not qualify for the Cyber Division

Your copyright attorney or you can file a complaint with the FBI through one of the following methods:


Steps to copyrighting your work before seeking a copyright attorney
A copyright attorney will have a hard time proving your case if you haven't taken the proper steps to copyright your work. Copyrighting your work is quite simple, here at the steps you should take:

Step # 1 - You will go to the U.S. Copyright office and fill out a copyright application form.
This application needs to be filled out as accurately as possible; if you fail to completely fill out the application it will be returned.

Step # 2 - Pay your application fee.
Depending upon which type of material you are copyrighting, there will be a fee for filing. It is cheaper to file your application online ($35) versus through a paper application ($45). Of course this is just the rate for literary work; it is different for other works.

Step # 3 - Prepare your nonrefundable deposit.
The nonrefundable deposit is a copy of the work you want to register. There are several stipulations upon the requirements of the work that is to be filed:


  • You must send 2 complete copies or phonorecords of your work if it was published before January 1, 1978.

  •  You must send 2 complete copies or phonorecords of your best work if it was published on or after January 1, 1978.

  •  If your work was not created in the United States, you must send the same work (2 copies or phonorecords) as it was originally published.

  • Again, depending upon the type of work you have created, there may be a different deposit required. Here are a few of the special deposit circumstances:

  •  A phonorecording (this is anything that has been recorded such as a CD) must be sent in its entirety to the copyright office.

  •  A computer program copyright is treated differently as well. You are required to send the first 25 pages of source code for the program. You must also send in the complete program if your program is less than 50 pages.

The complete application, a complete copy of your work (or the required work pages), and the appropriate application fee must be mailed in the same package to the U.S. Copyright Office. Of course, if you fill out the online application you will not have to do this (just a simple upload of your files will be sent to the Copyright Office).

If you do not want to copyright you work on your own, you can contact a copyright attorney before you publish your work and they can walk you though all the legal procedures. Check the internet for copyright attorneys in your area and interview with at least 2 or 3 different attorneys to see how they can help you.

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