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Copyright Attorney in Portland, OR

What is a Copyright and What Can be Protected?

Our copyright lawyer will help you understand the definition of "copyright" and how your copyrighted work can be protected.

Copyright law protects your original works in categories such as the following:

books and other literary works
sound recordings
motion pictures
computer programs
sculptural works
dramatic works
choreographic works
architectural works

Copyright protections and procedures are governed by the Federal Copyright Act. The Act gives the copyright owner exclusive rights to copy, distribute, and perform or display a copyrighted work. A work must meet three requirements to be copyrightable:

Authorship: the author’s original expression (not the unprotected underlying idea)
Originality: independently created - not copied (some minimal creativity – more than just “facts”). Original elements can be the creative selection, coordination, or arrangement of facts. Copyright protects those original components, not the facts themselves.
Fixation: “fixed in a tangible medium of expression” includes writings, computer media, paintings, films, buildings

Who Owns the Copyright?

Copyright protection exists automatically upon the work’s creation. Thus, the author of the created work immediately receives a property right in the work created.

If the work is “made for hire” then the employer is deemed the author and copyright owner and not the employee. (Our copyright attorney can help you undestand the definition of "work made for hire" and how it may apply to your specific situation).

Length of Copyright Protection

Generally, works are automatically protected from creation throughout the author’s life and until 70 years after the author’s death. If the work was created and published or registered before January 1, 1978, other rules apply. If the author is a business entity or “work for hire”, other rules may apply.

Benefits of Copyright Registration

Registration is not a requirement for copyright protection. However, there are some important advantages that flow from copyright registration:

Before an infringement lawsuit may be filed, registration is necessary for works of U.S. origin
If made before or within 5 years of publication, registration establishes evidence that the copyright is valid and confirms all facts stated in the registration certificate
If registration is made before an infringement or within 3 months after "publication" of the work, then statutory damages and attorneys fees are available to the copyright owner
Registration established a public record of the copyright claim

A work may be registered at any time during the term of copyright.

What Does Copyright Registration Require?

Our copyright attorney can prepare and submit your copyright registration. Generally, registration requires:

proper application form (generally a separate application for each single work)
federal filing fee
proper deposit material with the Register of Copyrights

The registration is effective on the date the Copyright Office receives and accepts all required elements. The amount of time the Office takes to review the application does not affect the copyright registration’s effective date.

Notice of Copyright

Copyright notice is not needed to preserve copyright protections, but notice has three advantages:

it negates a defense of innocent infringement
it may deter infringement
it is still a condition in some foreign countries (that have not signed the Berne Convention)

Copyright notice requires the use of the © symbol, the word “Copyright” or the abbreviation “Copr.”, the year of first publication of the work, and the name of the copyright owner.

International Copyrights

The Universal Copyright Convention

The Uniform Copyright Convention ("UCC") grants national protection and excuses formalities if published works bear the © symbol, have the name of the copyright owner, and state the year of first publication. This notice must be placed in a location and manner such that it will reasonably give notice of the claim to copyright.

Berne Convention

The Berne Convention grants protections far more secure than those granted under the UCC because no notice is required. Most major industrialized countries have signed this Convention (including all European Union countries and Japan).

Bilateral Agreements

Even if the work cannot be protected under an international convention, protection may be available via bilateral agreement between the United States and the given country or under specific provisions of the foreign country’s national laws.

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