Copyright law affords protection to the authors of original works of authorship.  Copyright attaches to any work that is fixed in a “tangible form of expression.”  In other words, when an idea becomes a tangible thing, such as a writing or picture, the work is protected by copyright.

These are examples of works subject to copyright protection:

  • Literary works
  • Musical works, including any accompanying words
  • Dramatic works, including any accompanying music
  • Pantomimes and choreographic works
  • Pictorial, graphic, and sculptural works
  • Motion pictures and other audiovisual works
  • Sound recordings
  • Architectural drawings

Although copyright exists automatically upon creation of the work, the owner can enhance the protections afforded by U.S. copyright laws by registering the work with the U.S. Copyright Office.  For example, a copyright registration is required before a party may enforce the copyright through litigation.  Also, if the date of registration is prior to or within three months after publication of a work, a copyright owner is eligible to recover statutory damages, attorneys’ fees, and costs from an infringing party. (The date of registration is deemed to be the date the application was filed.)  This benefit of timely registering a work is so substantial that it is often the determining factor in whether a copyright case is worth taking to court.

Our attorneys have experience working with photographers, filmmakers, artists, writers, and others in filing for copyright protection in the United States.  We also have experience bringing and defending claims of copyright infringement in federal court.