Helping You Register, Protect, and Profit from Your Creativity

Writers, musicians, artists, photographers, and software designers have unique talents to share with the world. Unfortunately, there are many who would take your hard work and try to profit from it themselves.

When you create something new, it belongs to you and no one else. John C. Laurence is a copyright lawyer in New York, NY, who understands this notion and fights for the rights of artists. He can help you take steps to protect your copyright and enforce it against others. 

What Is Copyright?

Copyright, as the name suggests, gives you the exclusive right to copy your original work. You can license your copyright to others, and you can also stop them from copying your work.

Copyright applies to all types of creative expression, including:

  • Art,
  • Photography,
  • Film,
  • Literature and drama,
  • Software,
  • Music and sound recordings, and
  • Architecture.

You don’t have to do anything to own the copyright on your work. Copyright protection begins the moment you create something and continues until 70 years after your death. When a business or other organization owns the copyright, it lasts for 120 years from the date of creation or 95 years from the date of publication, whichever comes first.

Why Do I Need to Register My Copyright?

Although a copyright arises from the moment of creation, it is important to register your copyright with the U.S. Copyright Office to fully protect it. 

Registering your copyright puts others on notice that you own it. It can also provide important evidence of your ownership if someone later claims to have created the work first.

Additionally, registering your copyright gives you the right to pursue a lawsuit for copyright infringement. If your copyright is not registered, you will have few remedies against those who would use your work for their own profit.

How Do I Register a Copyright?

It’s a good idea to consult a copyright attorney before submitting your registration application to the U.S. Copyright Office. They can review your application and highlight any concerns that could cause your application to be rejected.

Prepare Your Application

The first thing you need to do is to prepare your application. Different types of works require different registration forms, so it’s important you use the right one. You will need to include:

  • Copies of your work,
  • The correct registration form for your type of work; and
  • Your registration fee.

For published works, you will need to include two copies, and for unpublished works, you will typically need only one. The copies of your work are stored in the Library of Congress.

Submit Your Materials Online or by Mail

You can submit your application either online or by mail.

An online application is usually quicker and cheaper. However, in many cases, you will need to send the copies of your work by mail even if you submit your application online.

If you send your application by mail, you can either print your registration form or request that the Copyright Office mail you a form. You will need to include your registration form, copies of the work, and registration fee all in the same package.

Follow up on Your Application

It generally takes between three and nine months for the Copyright Office to process your application.

If you filed your application online, you can also check its status online. If you filed by mail, you can follow up with the Copyright Office after about six weeks.

If the Copyright Office accepts your application, it will mail you a certificate of registration. If it cannot grant the copyright, it will send you a letter explaining why. In some cases, the Copyright Office will reach out to you for more information before making a decision.

What Is Copyright Licensing and How Can It Benefit Me?

Copyright licensing is a great way to profit from your creative works. For a fee, you can permit others to use your work for specific purposes.

If you are considering licensing your work, it’s important to speak with a NYC copyright attorney. Licenses can involve complex contracts that should address various details such as:

  • How long the license will last;
  • What things your work can be used for;
  • Whether the license is exclusive;
  • Whether the licensee can expand upon or alter your work;
  • How much the licensee will pay you to use the work; 
  • Whether an how the licensee must credit you for your work; 
  • Whether the license can be assigned; and
  • What happens if the licensee violates the contract.

A copyright lawyer in New York can help you negotiate a license agreement that is in your best interest. You should never sign a license agreement without at least having an attorney review it.

What Is Copyright Infringement?

Copyright infringement occurs when someone copies your original work without permission. As the owner of the copyright, you have the exclusive right to make copies or authorize others to make copies. Thus, you have the right to seek a remedy if someone violates your copyright.

What Can I Do About Copyright Infringement?

A New York copyright lawyer can help you understand your options and take swift action against copyright infringement. Typically, your lawyer will help you take one or more of the following actions.

Send a Cease and Desist

In most cases, your attorney will start by sending a cease and desist letter to the infringing party. The letter will demand that the infringer stop using your work and compensate you for the improper use. Your lawyer will then work with the infringer to negotiate a settlement to compensate you for their harmful actions.

Negotiate a License Agreement

In some cases, you may consider negotiating with the infringing party to license the copyright to them. If you can reach an agreement, the infringer will pay you to continue using your work.

Request an Injunction

If someone continues to use your work and refuses to comply with your demands that they stop doing so, you can ask the court for an injunction. An injunction orders the infringing party to stop using your work.

Pursue Monetary Damages

If you can’t reach a settlement with the infringing party, you can file a lawsuit asking the court to award you damages. If you can show that the infringing party profited from using your work or that you lost income as a result of their actions, the court can use those numbers to calculate your damages. 

If your actual damages were low or you don’t have enough evidence to demonstrate them, you can ask for statutory damages instead. Statutory damages typically range from $750 to $30,000 per infringement. And if you can prove that the infringer acted willfully, you could recover up to $150,000 per infringement.

Do I Really Need a Lawyer for an NYC Copyright Infringement Case?

Although you may be tempted to deal with copyright infringement on your own, you will likely get the best results with the help of a copyright lawyer in New York.

As you can see from the summary above, you have many options when it comes to enforcing your copyright. The right option for you will depend on your individual circumstances. A New York copyright lawyer can analyze the facts of your case and advise you of the best method for maximizing your compensation and protecting your copyright from further infringement.

How Can I Identify Copyright Infringement?

Protecting your copyright from infringement takes time and effort. However, sleeping on your rights can impact your ability to enforce them. It’s important to take steps to monitor your work so you can act quickly to enforce your rights.

Enlist an Attorney to Help Monitor for Potential Violations

An attorney can be a valuable asset when it comes to monitoring your work and enforcing your copyright. If your attorney is involved in the monitoring process, they can also take swift action against violators.

Use Google

Google is a good basic way to monitor the use of your work online. You can set up Google Alerts keyed to specific unique phrases. Or you can use Google Image Search to see how your work is being used online. Unfortunately, while Google is better than using nothing, it will likely catch only a fraction of violations.

Try Third-Party Software

There are also third-party software programs, such as Copyscape and Pixsy, that are specifically designed to catch copyright violations. Depending on the type of work you have, programs like these may help you combat infringement.

How Can John C. Laurence Law, PLLC, Help Me?

John C. Laurence Law has extensive experience with intellectual property law, including copyrights, trademarks, and patents. We can help you with every aspect of your copyright, from registration, to licensing, to enforcement. Call us now or contact us online to set up a consultation. We are excited to see what we can do for you.