Copyright protection for intellectual and creative property
Copyright protection grants authors or artists full ownership of their work, including the right to copy, distribute and adapt it as they choose. Normally lasting from 50 to 100 years from the author's death, copyright law is designed to encourage learning, inventing and artistic creation while ensuring that creators receive moral and financial credit for their work.
As a creator, you are entitled to use your work as you see fit and reap the rewards. Unfortunately, those that ignore or sidestep copyright laws often defend their actions as original or authorized; without a good understanding of your rights or a solid body of evidence, your case may not turn out in your favor. Learn about your creative rights and how legal expertise can help you protect and restore those rights.
Contrary to physical property laws, copyrights relate to intangible items—they control actions rather than the printed objects themselves. The copyright owner has both the right to copy and control the production of their own work and the right to prevent others from assuming that control. This right goes beyond the original work to also include control over any adaptation, translation or performance made by another author. However, the idea itself is not covered by copyright law; ideas will be covered by patents.
The Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works has established that a copyright automatically applies to any idea that has been reduced to the tangible form of a book, drawing or other document—the copyright does not need to be formally registered in a copyright office for the work to be protected. However, any evidence of copyright can only help you in the end; you may want to work with an attorney to ensure that you're protected from the start.
Since copyright laws are intended to protect the expression of an idea rather than the idea itself, proving a violation can be tricky. There are also exceptions to the copyright laws under the doctrine of "Fair Use," such as the free use of copyrighted work for teaching purposes, quotations and news reporting. Furthermore, the lack of registration through copyright services means there may be a lack of evidence, which can work against you. A copyright lawyer can help you establish the three elements that are needed for an infringement case: ownership of a valid copyright, actual copying and misappropriation.
Are you able to prove your ownership of a valid copyright? That will be the first step to a successful lawsuit. This can be a difficult endeavor, but proving the actual copying can be even more complicated. Your case will rely on a variety of evidence to show that the defendant not only has access to the original work, but also that there is a "striking similarity" between the original and copied work. If you believe your work has been copied, your best course of action is to consult a copyright lawyer who can help to argue your case and restore your ownership and any financial reward that you are entitled to.