Arthur R. Lehman, L.L.C.

What is a copyright and how is it enforced?

Huge numbers of books, websites, musical pieces, promotional materials, performances, computer software and more are protected by the copyright laws of the United States. Many New York businesses have such works that they may wish to protect with copyright protection. But what is copyright protection?

Copyright is defined as an exclusive right to reproduce, publish or sell an original work of authorship. Items that can be protected by copyright include literary, dramatic, musical, architectural and artistic works. In order to be eligible for copyright protection, a work must be fixed in a tangible form. This means that ideas, concepts and facts themselves are not protected by copyright. But, when these things are used to create a work such as a book, piece of art or website, that work is protected.

Copyrights can be registered with the U.S. Copyright Office. Doing this can be helpful if the time ever comes to enforce a copyright against an alleged infringer. Registration can be done online quickly and easily. By registering a copyright, a copyright holder may even be able to recover damages and attorney's fees from an infringer.

A copyright holder has authorization to do a number of things with a work that they hold a valid copyright on. These things include: reproducing a work; distributing copies of a work through sale, lease or other transfer of ownership; preparing works that are derived from the original work; performing a work publicly; and displaying a work publicly.

How does a copyright holder enforce their rights against an alleged infringer? This is traditionally done with intellectual property litigation.

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