The Copyright Act of 1976 is the chief doctrine that governs all issues concerning copyright law in the United States. Pursuant to the Copyright Act, copyright protection is applicable to “original works of authorship fixed in any tangible medium of expression.” The following categories define what items qualify as works of authorship: (1) literary works; (2) musical works; (3) dramatic works; (4) choreography and pantomimes; (5) pictorial, graphic, and sculptural works; (6) motion pictures and other audiovisual works; (7) sound recordings; and (8) architectural works.
Until a work is registered, federal courts cannot hear claims for copyright infringement. That is one reason that it is important for copyright holders to retain a lawyer to file for copyright registration. Registering a copyright also places the copyright on the public record and gives copyright owners a certificate of registration. Being able to then sue based on a copyright infringement may allow the copyright holder to collect statutory damages and attorney’s fees.
An author who believes a third-party has violated one of his or her exclusive rights may file a claim in federal court for copyright infringement. In order to allege copyright infringement, a plaintiff must satisfy two requirements: (1) ownership of the allegedly infringed material; and (2) sufficient proof to support a belief that the alleged infringer violated at least one of the exclusive rights bestowed upon the copyright holder.
We have extensive experience litigating intellectual property claims, including copyright infringement actions in federal court. Our experience is on both the plaintiff and defendant sides of copyright-related litigation. Some of our cases have included the illegal download of content on the Internet, sale of illegally copied DVDs, and use of artwork without the copyright holder’s knowledge or consent.