The attorneys of Merchant & Gould's Copyright and Entertainment Law Group work to protect ownership of artistic and informative expression in whatever industry it is found.


Protection of Artistic Expression and Informational Media

The attorneys of Merchant & Gould's Copyright and Entertainment Law Group work to protect ownership of artistic and informative expression in whatever industry it is found.

The protection afforded by copyright is a powerful tool for individuals and companies in the entertainment industry. However, copyright is not just for authors and musicians. Copyright protections extend to software developers, semiconductor mask works, authors of Internet and telecommunications applications — and to any person or business that publishes an expression of an original idea.

The Rights of the Copyright Holder

A copyright does not have to be registered with the U.S. Copyright Office in order to be valid, although registration is strongly recommended. Formal registration of a copyright gives the owner additional leverage should copyright infringement occur or require litigation.

Whether or not the owner formally registers the copyright, the owner of copyrighted material has the exclusive right to:

  • Make copies of the material
  • Adapt the material (for example, make a movie from a book)
  • Distribute copies of the material to the public — either in hard copy or via electronic means
  • Publicly perform or display the material

Licensing the Work

Safeguarding the legal right to license published material is one of the two main reasons to protect original material with a copyright. Licensing can be a tremendous source of profit for the creator of the material. The copyright lawyers of Merchant & Gould regularly represent copyright holders by negotiating and drafting licensing agreements for both technical and artistic material.

Prosecuting Copyright Infringement

Copyright enforcement is the sole responsibility of the copyright owner. Neither the U.S. Copyright Office nor any other government agency enforces copyright law. (The same is true for patents and trademarks.) At Merchant & Gould, we work with each client to develop a long-term copyright protection plan that meets the client's specific needs and considers all likely sources of possible infringement.

If copyright infringement does occur, our litigation team is imminently capable of aggressively protecting the rights of the copyright holder. Our law firm also defends clients accused of copyright infringement.


Copyright Practice Group Chair, Gregory A. Sebald


All Media
White Papers
Star Athletica, L.L.C. v. Varsity Brands, Inc.
Star Athletica, L.L.C. v. Varsity Brands, Inc.: Eligibility of Design Features for Copyright ProtectionIn Star Athletica, L.L.C. v. Varsity Brands, Inc., 580 U.S. _____ (2017), the Supreme Court determined that two-dimensional designs appearing on the surface ...
White Papers
Kirtsaeng v. John Wiley & Sons, Inc.: Supreme Court holds district courts should weigh all factors in determination of awarding attorney’s fees for copyright infringement and give substantial weight to reasonableness of losing party’s litigation position
The Supreme Court’s recent decision in Kirtsaeng v. John Wiley & Sons, Inc., clarified the proper analysis for awarding attorney’s fees in copyright infringement cases.[1]Supap Kirtsaeng (Kirtsaeng) came from Thailand to the United States to ...
Cyberworld CLE in Madison
CYBERWORLD: Protecting Your Brand in Cyberspace Join us for a complimentary CLE focusing on Intellectual Property Law and the ever-evolving Cyberworld Thursday, April 28, 2016 CLE - 2:30-5:00 p.m. Brewery Tour & Beer Tasting - 5:00-6:00 p.m. Concert ...
Nuts & Bolts of Copyrights
Gregory Sebald, a partner at the Minneapolis office of Merchant & Gould, will be a featured speaker in an intellectual property webinar on the nuts and bolts of copyright law on March 17, 2016.Nuts & Bolts of Copyrights Thursday, March 17, 2016 2-3 ...
Clark Wilson to moderate Atlanta Bar CLE on Trademark and Copyright Litigation
Clark Wilson, an intellectual property attorney in the Atlanta office of Merchant & Gould, has organized a lunch event, eligible for CLE credit, for the IP section of the Atlanta Bar Association.Atlanta Bar Association Intellectual Property Section Luncheon In-House ...
Heather Kliebenstein to speak at Trademark & Copyright Summit
Heather Kliebenstein, an intellectual property attorney and partner at Merchant & Gould, will be a featured speaker at a trademark and copyright conference in Silicon Valley on November 19, 2015.The IP Strategy Summit – Trademark & Copyright: ...