Published By Janet Gershen-Siegel at September 15, 2017
You may think your business does not really need to think about copyright law, but think again. All businesses should consider intellectual property and how it may affect them.
In the United States, copyright law is covered in the Constitution. Cases brought under copyright law are civil. That means no one can go to jail for copyright infringement.
According to the US Copyright Office,
“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 This protection is available to both published and unpublished works.”
According to Section 106 of the Copyright Act of 1967, a copyright holder can:
Copyrights are assets and they have value. They can be bought and sold, and even inherited.
In America, copyrights expire after 70 years, but copyright holders often try to get extensions. Never, ever assume a work of art is not copyrighted.
For the small business owner, intellectual property will generally be about:
Ownership of a valid copyright consists of:
A copyright registration certificate from the Copyright Office serves as direct evidence of elements (1) through (4). Registration with the US Copyright office isn’t necessary to successfully bring an infringement claim. But it’s awfully helpful.
If someone uses intellectual property without the owner’s permission, they are said to be infringing on copyright. However, there are some exceptions.
If your company owns intellectual property, or you think you might, it might be a good idea to consult with an intellectual property lawyer. If you have these kinds of assets, they are worth protecting. This means getting patents on inventions and filing for copyright protection for your trademarks and intellectual property.
It also means your own intellectual property needs to be original. You can’t copyright an idea, but the application of an idea can be copyrighted. The idea of a picture of a swan is not subject to copyright, but a specific picture of a swan is. This means – don’t just take images online for use. There may be a copyright in them. How can you tell? Ask the owner of the site where you saw the image. You might be able to purchase a copy or a license and use the image.
You can also make sure you are not infringing as follows:
Keep out of copyright hot water and protect your own intellectual property. It’s a business asset!