COVERT LAW

Copyrights
 

Copyrights provide the legal protection for original works of authorship that include such items as books, manuals, packaging copy, software/firmware source code, images, music and websites.

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Information on this site is for informational purposes only.  It is not intended to be and is not considered to be legal advice.  Transmission is not intended to create and receipt does not establish an attorney-client relationship. Legal advice of any nature should be sought from legal counsel.
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Not certified by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization.


 
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The Congress shall have Power . . . To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries . . .
Article I, Section 8, U.S. Constitution

COPYRIGHT


Copyright law is in most respects the best way to protect intellectual property.  Most individuals find it difficult to understand the particulars of copyright law and what benefits you receive when your intellectual property has been registered with the United States Copyright Office.  Our Office can assist you in understanding the process and we can help in exploiting your copyright.

Our Office can assist you in the following:

  • Negotiating and drafting agreements covering the development, transfer and licensing of copyrighted works

  • Defending copyright infringement allegations and actions

  • Drafting and prosecuting applications for copyright registration

  • Counseling clients on the enforcement of copyrights

  • Counseling clients on the development and licensing of computer software

  • Counseling clients on multimedia licensing issues including content and music

  • Investigating copyright ownership issues

  • Counseling clients on issues related to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act

  • Conducting copyright training programs

Copyright Basics

WHAT IS COPYRIGHT?

Copyright is a form of protection provided by the laws of the United States (title 17, U.S. Code) to the authors of “original works of authorship,” including literary, dramatic, musical, artistic, and certain other intellectual works. This protection is available to both published and unpublished works. Section 106 of the 1976 Copyright Act generally gives the owner of copyright the exclusive right to do and to authorize others to do the following:

To reproduce the work in copies or phonorecords;

To prepare derivative works based upon the work;

To distribute copies or phonorecords of the work to the public by sale or other transfer of ownership, or by rental, lease, or lending;

To perform the work publicly, in the case of literary, musical, dramatic, and choreographic works, pantomimes, and motion pictures and other audiovisual works;

To display the copyrighted work publicly, in the case of literary, musical, dramatic, and choreographic works, pantomimes, and pictorial, graphic, or sculptural works, including the individual images of a motion picture or other audiovisual work; and

In the case of sound recordings, to perform the work publicly by means of a digital audio transmission.

WHO CAN CLAIM COPYRIGHT

Copyright protection subsists from the time the work is created in fixed form. The copyright in the work of authorship immediately becomes the property of the author who created the work. Only the author or those deriving their rights through the author can rightfully claim copyright.

In the case of works made for hire, the employer and not the employee is considered to be the author.  Section 101 of the copyright law defines a "work made for hire" as:

a work prepared by an employee within the scope of his or her employment; or

a work specially ordered or commissioned for use as:

a contribution to a collective work

a part of a motion picture or other audiovisual work

a translation

a supplementary work

a compilation

an instructional text

a test

answer material for a test

an atlas

if the parties expressly agree in a written instrument signed by them that the work shall be considered a work made for hire....

The authors of a joint work are co-owners of the copyright in the work, unless there is an agreement to the contrary.

Copyright in each separate contribution to a periodical or other collective work is distinct from copyright in the collective work as a whole and vests initially with the author of the contribution.

Two General Principles

  • Mere ownership of a book, manuscript, painting, or any other copy or phonorecord does not give the possessor the copyright. The law provides that transfer of ownership of any material object that embodies a protected work does not of itself convey any rights in the copyright.

  • Minors may claim copyright, but state laws may regulate the business dealings involving copyrights owned by minors. For information on relevant state laws, consult an attorney.

What is Not Protected By Copyright?

Several categories of material are generally not eligible for federal copyright protection. These include among others:

  • Works that have not been fixed in a tangible form of expression (for example, choreographic works that have not been notated or recorded, or improvisational speeches or performances that have not been written or recorded)

  • Titles, names, short phrases, and slogans; familiar symbols or designs; mere variations of typographic ornamentation, lettering, or coloring; mere listings of ingredients or contents

  • Ideas, procedures, methods, systems, processes, concepts, principles, discoveries, or devices, as distinguished from a description, explanation, or illustration

  • Works consisting entirely of information that is common property and containing no original authorship (for example: standard calendars, height and weight charts, tape measures and rulers, and lists or tables taken from public documents or other common sources)

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