Copyright law protects works of art that are original. These can include songs, art, books, photographs, and videos. In the United States, copyright ownership is automatically granted. Owners also have the right to license their work, for value, to others.
First, let’s look at what copyright law protects. There are three requirements in order to have protection under copyright law:
- Must be a work of authorship. These works can include literature or textual works, pictures, graphics, sculptures, music, dramatic or choreographed works, recordings of sound such as music, computer programs, and websites.
- Must be original. Works are original if they are not reproduced from another work and contain some level of creativity.
- Must be fixed. This means that the work must be found in some tangible form of expression.
While not mandatory, it is a good idea to register your copyrightable work with the Copyright Office. This is extremely important, as many jurisdictions in the United States, owners or copyrights cannot file lawsuits in federal courts for infringement, unless registered with the Copyright Office. Furthermore, attorney’s fees and statutory damages may not be recoverable unless the work is registered.
It is important to make the distinction between owning a copy vs. copyrights of a work. Owning a copy, for example, of an original piece of art, does not grant copyrights, unless the copyrights are expressly given. Therefore, owning a copy does not entitle you to reproducing the work or conducting any acts that are protected by the copyright.
Given that copyrights are only granted for works of art that are original, is there protection for works that aren’t necessarily original?
The California Supreme Court case, Desny vs. Wilder, helps answer this question. The plaintiff in the case, Victor Desny. wrote a script that illustrated the life of Floyd Collins. Desny consulted with Bill Wilder, a writer, producer, and director for Paramount Pictures. Desny shared the basics of his script with Wilder’s secretary, in the hopes that Wilder would be interested in pursuing the script further. After hearing Desny’s ideas, Wilder soon after wrote his own script that was closely analogous to Desny’s. The script that Desny wrote is not protected under copyright law because the script is based on historical facts and is therefore not original. However, the California Supreme Court held that Desny shared enough information about his script to create an implied-in-fact contract between himself and Mr.Wilder. Therefore, the court ruled that, because a contract was established, that Desny’s ideas could be protected by a lawsuit. In California, novelty is not required for idea theft cases.
Have Questions About Copyright Law? Take Action by Contacting a Copyright Attorney in Los Angeles Today
At Omni Legal Group, we have experience in successfully handling idea theft and copyright infringement lawsuits and will fight to protect your ideas.
The issues surrounding intellectual property law are complex. If you hope to secure the rights to your original work, consult with a copyright attorney in Los Angeles such as the highly experienced and reputable professionals at the Omni Legal Group. Omni Legal Group is a premier Patent, Trademark, and Copyright law firm located in Los Angeles serving all of California. For further information or to schedule a consultation please contact Omni Legal Group at 855.433.2226 or visit www.OmniLegalGroup.com to learn more.