Experienced Entertainment Lawyers
From Music Licensing to TV Agreements
Los Angeles Copyright Lawyers
- Protection from the creation of a “derivative work”
- Distribution of the copyrighted material
- Public performance
- Public display
- Digital audio transmission of sound recordings
In this section, we briefly explore some of the basic aspects of copyright law, including when copyright protection starts; intellectual property protected by copyright law; how long copyright lasts; and issues of copyright ownership. Our copyright attorneys are capable of
HIRING A COPYRIGHT ATTORNEY
A. WHEN DOES COPYRIGHT PROTECTION START?
Copyright protection starts as soon as the creation takes a tangible form, which extends far beyond books. Even writing letters, taking pictures, or doodling on a napkin would constitute a tangible form. In fact, writing a book or manuscript, making a video, or even crafting a piece of a sculpture would legally constitute a copyrighted status.
Generally, no notice is required for copyright protection until the work is published, i.e. distributed by sale, lease, license, or other transfer of ownership. Nonetheless, it is prudent business practice to attach notice to all copies of the work immediately upon fixation in a material medium. A copyright attorney can help you ensure the protection of these works and other beneficial opportunities that could help your business in the future.
Notice consists of attachment of the following elements on the work:
- The Symbol ©
- The Word “Copyright” or the Abbreviation “Copr.”
- The Year of Publication
- The Name of the Owner of the Copyright
- The Words “All Rights Reserved” Beneath the Copyright Notice
B. WHAT IS COVERED BY COPYRIGHT?
Now, the next question to ponder is what rights and privileges the owner of a copyright reserves. In the motion picture business, there are at least four such rights and privileges:
Only the owner of the copyright can make copies of the protected work. Making even one copy of a protected work constitutes copyright infringement, despite some rather specific exceptions.
2. “DERIVATIVE WORK”
A “Derivative Work” is defined as a modification or alteration of a preexisting work. Hence, even making “minor” changes to the original is in violation of the copyright. Accordingly, filmmakers must obtain the owners’ permission for any modification or alteration.
Distribution means making a copyrighted work available to the public-at-large through sale, lease, rental, lending, or other forms of transfer of ownership. Again, for distribution, the copyright owner’s permission is required.
4. PUBLIC PERFORMANCE
Whenever an audience attends a performance at which a movie is played or a song is sung, it is generally considered to be a public performance. The operative fact in determining copyright violation is whether the public is invited to attend. In other words, it is immaterial as to whether the attendees were charged or not. If the public was invited, it is considered a public performance in violation of the copyright.
C. WHEN DOES COPYRIGHT PROTECTION END?
Copyright protection lasts for the life of the author plus 70 years. This means if somebody owns the copyright to a book, movie, or piece of music, even their grandchildren could be receiving royalties from permitted exploitation of the copyrighted work.
Nonetheless, if a corporation is the author the copyright, protection lasts 95 years from the day it was published or 120 years from the day it was created, whichever is shorter. A corporation is the author when the work is created by an employee of the corporation within the course and scope of the employee’s employment or when the work is made for hire.
D. COPYRIGHT OWNERSHIP
Generally, the author is the owner of copyright. Nonetheless, when the author is an employee of a company and creates the work within the scope and course of employment, then the company becomes the owner of the copyright.
Furthermore, a work for hire also bestows copyright ownership in the person or entity paying for the work. Work is made for hire if you have an agreement with another person or entity which states as much.
WORK FOR HIRE
Work Made for Hire ONLY Applies to the Following:
- Part of a Motion Picture or Other Audio-Visual Work
- A Test
- Answer Material for a Test
- A Contribution to a Collective Work
- A Supplementary Work
- An Atlas
- A Translation