Copyright Law

We handle copyright registration, cease and desist, and litigation matters throughout the United States.  A copyright gives the owner the ability to reproduce, distribute, or use creative material and exclude others from utilizing the material without the owner’s permission.  Under copyright law, ideas alone and facts alone cannot be protected.  Only the expression of an idea is protected under copyright law.  When an idea is misappropriated, recovery of damages may be possible under legal theories other than copyright law.  So, while the idea of a software program cannot be protected under copyright law, the written expression of the software program can be.

Copyright infringement occurs when a plaintiff can prove: (1) ownership of a valid copyright: and (2) unauthorized copying by the defendant of original elements of the work.  The key inquiry in a matter of copyright infringement is whether substantial similarity exists between the works at issue.  Generally, a work will be considered to be substantially similar if the overall look and feel is the same from the viewpoint of an average observer.  To prove infringement, a party must provide either direct evidence that the defendant copied the work or indirect evidence of copying by proving that the defendant had access to the work.

If a party copies the work of a copyright holder without permission, the copyright holder should either request that the infringing party cease and desist from any further exploitation of the work, or initiate copyright litigation in federal court.  When a copyright infringement occurs on a registered copyright, the availability of statutory damages and attorneys’ fees may lead a plaintiff to initiate an action by filing a lawsuit.