Whether it is a literary work, a musical composition, computer source code, or any other “original work of authorship,” if the work possesses even a minimal degree of creativity, it is deserving of copyright protection once in tangible form. In fact, once any such work is created, its author already enjoys copyright protection. That copyright, however, is not going to yield the value that it could and should, unless a copyright registration is obtained from the Copyright Office. Without this registration in-hand, the copyright holder will not be able to enforce its copyright in the courts. Without that, at least threat of, potential enforcement, infringers will be free to run amok.
The copyright registration process is simple, inexpensive, and relatively quick. You will likely obtain your copyright registration certificate within a few months of submitting the application or even sooner if you pay a fee for expedited processing. While not strictly necessary, utilizing an experienced copyright lawyer to handle this process for you will allow for piece of mind that the process is being undertaken properly. Chiacchio IP routinely secures copyright registrations for its clients.
Many cases come to the Firm’s doors involving disputes over who owns the intellectual property, including copyright, for work conducted in connection with some sort of professional relationship (whether it be a conventional employer-employee relationship; an independent contractor arrangement; or some other form of association). Individuals and businesses often spend tens of thousands of dollars, and sometimes more, litigating who owns the work. Promptly applying for your copyright registration will be an invaluable step to defending your rights should any such dispute arise. As an experienced copyright lawyer, Chiacchio IP Founder and Owner Ted Chiacchio is well-qualified to handle the copyright registration process for the Firm’s clients and frequently does so.
With this said, even better than being prepared for a dispute should one arise, is taking steps to prevent a dispute from arising in the first place. This may involve your consulting with an experienced copyright lawyer before entering into any employment agreement addressing intellectual property issues or entering into a work-for-hire agreement with any entity. An experienced copyright lawyer can provide valuable advice regarding how best to craft the agreement to ensure maximum protection of your rights. Chiacchio IP regularly reviews, analyzes, and advises its clients regarding the copyright and other intellectual property-related aspects of employment, work-for-hire, and other agreements.
Having taken all necessary steps to ensure that you are not unnecessarily giving away your copyright, you may need to have copyright licensing agreements prepared. For example, copyright licensing agreements may be necessary to allow others to use your work under a defined set of conditions (for example, in certain specific ways, for specified financial compensation, for a set period of time, etc.). It is critical that the license is both iron-clad in protecting the copyright owner’s rights and crystal clear to avoid any misunderstandings and potential related disputes in the future. Chiacchio IP regularly drafts copyright licensing agreements for its clients.
Even where all possible steps are taken to sure-up your copyright and preemptively address any potentially problematic issues vis-à-vis third-parties, disputes may arise. When a dispute arises relating to your or someone else’s copyright, you would be well-served relying upon Ted’s 15 years of intellectual property litigation experience. Ted has handled dozens of high-stakes intellectual property cases in federal courts throughout his career. Ted is currently representing, as lead trial counsel, a writer who has brought suit to establish her copyright ownership rights vis-à-vis a business for whom she had previously provided writing services. Ted has secured several favorable rulings for his client in that case and it remains on-going currently. Ted’s litigation experience, however, also inures to the benefit of his clients in other ways. For example, as an experienced negotiator, Ted is often able to secure favorable settlements for his clients while avoiding protracted litigation and the attendant expenditure of resources. In fact, in certain instances Ted has been able to help his clients avoid litigation completely by discussing the disputed issues with the adverse party and arriving at a mutually agreeable resolution prior to any legal proceeding having been filed. Regardless of whether the dispute evolves into litigation or not, having an experienced copyright lawyer and intellectual property litigator in your corner will provide substantial value as you navigate the situation.