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Copyright Law

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Copyright gives the owner exclusive rights including the right to reproduce, prepare derivative works, distribute copies of, perform or display publicly, the copyrighted work. A violation of these rights can give rise to both a civil cause of action and criminal liability. A Copyright begins as soon as the work is created. The copyrighted work immediately becomes the intellectual property (IP) of the author, whether or not the work is ever registered.

A copyright attorney represents clients in matters dealing with copyright law & intellectual property, which states that the owner of any tangible creative work (author, composer, playwright, publisher, etc.) has the sole legal right to that work in all areas of:

  • Publication
  • Production
  • Sale
  • Reproduction
  • Performance
  • Distribution
  • Public display
  • Transmission
  • Transformation

A copyright attorney helps to protect a creator's right to be compensated and to control his or her intellectual property (IP) in the areas of:

  • 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 works

How Long Does a Copyright Last?

The life of a copyright depends on when the work was produced and submitted for copyright protection.

  • For works published after 1977, the copyright lasts for the life of the author plus 70 years
  • All works published in the United States before 1923 are in the public domain
  • Works created after 1923, but before 1978 are protected for 95 years from the date of publication

The Internet

The Internet has been characterized as the largest threat to copyright & intellectual property (IP) since its inception. The Internet is full of information, with much of it with varying degrees of copyright protection. Copyrighted works on the net include news stories, software, novels, screenplays, graphics, pictures, Usenet messages and even email. In fact, the frightening reality is that almost everything on the Net is protected by copyright law.

Copyright Registration

An advantage of copyright registration is that it establishes a public record of the claim of copyright to intellectual property (IP). Registration is required before an infringement suit may be filed in court. The 1976 Copyright Act law confers upon the owner of copyright, the exclusive right to reproduce it, prepare derivative works, distribute copies or phono-records of it or display it publicly.

Copyright attorneys can give an analysis of copyright ownership when one is considering the copyright status of older works. In the transfer of copyright of those older works, consulting lawyers is highly recommended.


Copyrights are registered with the U.S. Copyright Office of the Library of Congress. If you are in need of legal advice or services, or simply wish to speak to an attorney who has successfully handled Copyright Law & intellectual property (IP) cases in your state, you may use this Free Online Consultation Form.

There is NO COST or obligation for this service.