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What Constitutes Copyrightable Work?

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What Constitutes Copyrightable Work?
Copyright law provides a safeguard against copyright infringement. This denotes protection of your work, including drawings, photographs, or even paintings. The rationale behind this is to ensure that original works of authorship are protected and promote their creation by giving them exclusive property rights.
That being said, here is a brief elucidation of all you need to know about copyright and copyright infringement.
What Constitutes Copyrightable Work?
There are specific prerequisites that your work must meet in order to be eligible for copyright protection. These include:
It must be an original work of authorship
Must be fixed in a tangible medium of expression
Must possess a modicum of creativity
It is worth noting that copyright protection extends to literary works, dramatic works, and even architectural work having met the necessary criteria. However, ineligible works that can’t be copyrighted include phrases, unwritten or unrecorded speeches, short titles, and even works that are deemed common property, thus lacking original ownership, an example being a calendar.
How Long Does Copyright Protection Last?
The duration of copyright protection is often date and fact-sensitive. The publication date, for instance, plays a considerable role in copyright protection. Copyright law provides that for any work published after 1977, the copyright protection will last during the author’s lifetime plus an additional seventy years.
In the same token, work for hire tends to last for a period of 95 and 120 years. However, this depends on the publication date.
After the expiry of the copyright protection period, the work becomes available in the public domain. This means that any member of the public can have unrestricted access to your work.
How Can You Protect Your Work?
Copyright law envisions the protection of your work as soon as you fix it in a tangible medium. This means that you are no longer required to register or publish in the copyright office for you to secure copyright protection. Additionally, the copyright symbol© is no longer a mandatory requirement for you to receive protection. However, you may find it imperative to use it in order to avoid a claim where an infringer alleges that they were unaware of the copyright.
Indeed, there are benefits to be accrued from registering the copyright with the copyright office. This can be attested to the fact that registration is a prerequisite in filing an infringement lawsuit. In other words, if you are to successfully sue an infringer and also to stand a chance of collecting any damages, then your copyright needs to be registered. This is to the effect that it strengthens your claim against the infringer.
Remember, you can only preserve the right to sue for statutory damages once your work has been registered for copyright protection.
What does the Law Provide if Your Works are Infringed?
If your copyrighted work has been infringed, then you are entitled to file for copyright infringement. For you to institute a proceeding for copyright infringement, the law provides that you do so within a period of three years after discovering the infringement. In other words, failure to file a claim within three years against an infringer renders your case time-barred.
What Damages can be Recovered in an Infringement?
Once you have successfully filed and proved that an infringement took place, you are entitled to damages. These damages are in three forms:
Actual damages: This includes lost revenues or sales.
Additional profit: These are recovered when the infringer’s profit exceeds the copyright owner’s actual damages.
Statutory damages: They typically range from $750-$30,000 where the infringement constitutes non-willful infringement and $ 150,000 for willful infringement.
Possible Defenses against Infringement
An alleged infringer may raise defenses that aim at exonerating them from the potential consequences of infringement. Such defenses include:
Fair use occurs when the infringer alleges that he or she did not appropriate the original work. This is to be determined by the court. The court considers the purpose and character of the use, the nature of the copyrighted work, and the effect on the potential market or the value of the copyrighted work.
Bottom Line
Copyright law provides sufficient safeguard against copyright infringement. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean that infringement won’t occur. Therefore, where your copyrighted work is infringed, you must institute a copyright claim as soon as possible. This can be a daunting task, and it is for this that you should seek the assistance of a qualified lawyer. Contact Larson & Larson today for help.

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