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