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Copyrights protect original works of authorship that can include anything from software to architectural works, design documents, and artistic works. Copyright protection starts from the moment a work is fixed in a tangible form, but federal registration is required to enforce copyright rights in court. The Luther Law Firm has helped clients register copyright in a wide range of materials. Although the copyright registration process is less complicated and hence less expensive than many other types of intellectual property protection, copyright provides a powerful tool for protecting intellectual property rights. We can assist you in obtaining exclusive rights to distribute, publicly perform, and reproduce your work.
We can also help guide you through copyright infringement issues, i.e., where someone else uses your copyrighted work without permission or you are accused of using someone else’s work without permission. We can employ a range of options to address infringement of your work. In some cases, the damage being caused by the infringer is so immediate and serious, that there is no choice but to file a lawsuit and seek a preliminary injunction. In other cases, less extreme options are available to stop the infringement while avoiding unnecessary legal expense. Cease and desist letters to stop infringement can range from very polite “you may not have realized you need permission” type of letters to very strongly worded letters demanding an immediate end to infringement and seeking damages and other remedies. We have also seen many situations where picking up the phone and explaining the situation to the infringer is all that is necessary to stop the infringement.
DMCA takedowns under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act are another powerful tool to combat copyright infringement. DMCA takedown letters are written to the web hosts, social media platforms or other online providers who provide services to the infringer. The DMCA takedown allows the recipient of the demand letter to remove or disable access to the content to avoid liability as long as they do so reasonably quickly. The infringer has the option to issue a “put back” notice to restore the information. In many cases, however, the DMCA takedown itself is all that is necessary to end the infringement.
Luther Law can also assist where you or your company are accused of copyright infringement. We can help you evaluate a wide range of defenses and non-infringement positions. In some disputes, the potential plaintiff may not own the work they are accusing you of infringing or the work may not be eligible for copyright protection. Other disputes may involve a governmental entity that may not have the authority to possess copyright or other intellectual property rights, and we have litigated this ownership issue in a number of cases. See the decisions on this issue here.
Where the conduct would otherwise constitute infringement, there may be a variety of available defenses, including fair use, independent creation, license, abandonment of rights, and other defenses. Contact us to discuss how we can help with your copyright issues.