Intellectual Property Frequently Asked Questions: Volume 2 – Copyrights

Our FAQ Series Continues…

Intellectual Property Law can be a very confusing topic of conversation with clients, businesses, and friends. Today we are covering our second topic in our recurring Frequently Asked Questions series. Copyrights.

Typed Words On A Vintage Typewriter

What is a copyright?

A copyright is a form of statutory protection provided to original works of authorship fixed in a tangible medium of expression” including literary, musical, dramatic, choreographic, pictorial, graphic and sculptural, motion picture and audio visual, sound recordings and architectural works.

Beautiful young ballet dancer jumping on a lilac background.

Why do I need a copyright registration?

A copyright registration offers significant benefits to the owner of the registration. First, the registration establishes a public record of the copyright claim. A registration of a U.S. work is necessary before any copyright infringement lawsuit may be filed in the courts.  If a registration is made before or within five years of publication, the registration establishes a presumption in court as to the validity of the copyright and of the facts stated in the certificate. If a registration is made within three months after publication of the work and prior to infringement, statutory damages, and attorney’s fees are available to the copyright owner in court actions.  Otherwise, the copyright owner may only seek actual damages and profits.

African American jazz musician playing the saxophone, closeup

How long does a copyright last?

A copyright for works by individual authors, the term of the copyright is the life of the author, plus 70 years after the author’s death.

The term of copyright in works for hire or corporate owned works is 95 years from the first date of publication, or 120 years from creation, whichever is longer.

Copyrights cannot be renewed under the current copyright statute.

Retro paintbrush.

Once I obtain a copyright registration do I have to do anything to maintain the registration?

No. Once you obtain the copyright registration from the U.S. Copyright Office you do not have to file anything additional.

To gain additional insight into Copyright Law, please visit our Practice Area page.

Our next post in our series of Frequently Asked IP Questions will continue next week. If you have an Intellectual Property Questions or topic you’d like us to cover, please email [email protected]

Crystal Broughan is an intellectual property law attorney with Marks Gray, P.A.  If you would like to learn more about Marks Gray’s intellectual property law services please contact Ms. Broughan at [email protected] or 904-807-2180.