Copyright Protection is Yours the Minute You Create It

Copyright is an interesting animal. It is protected from the moment a work is created.

Without getting too confusing and technical, there are several searches that may be made to check for copyright infringement of a work or picture. You can do your own searches or have a Los Angeles copyright and trademark lawyer do them. There are trademark searches to find out if a potential new mark is already registered and patent searches to see if an invention is really new and capable of being patented.

Back to the copyright searches. Copyright protection is Johnny-on-the-spot when it is first created. In fact, just about anything with some component of creativity gets copyright protection – restaurant menu designs, website designs, etc. However, federal registration for copyright is another can of worms entirely. They are easily searched because the government has a complete list.

But it is virtually impossible to discover all non-registered and copyrighted images. In other words, if someone does not register his or her copyrighted material, it will not be found on a search. You can imagine the potential for infringement. If you have written or created a brochure, file it and forget about it, no one will ever know you did it, even though you had copyright protection from the minute it was created.

While this may seem like a huge legal problem, you should know that copyright infringement typically needs proof of access to the original work and evidence of copying. No access, no copying, no infringement. It is like you playing around with a design for a work shed for your yard. That design may look just like one another guy in another town is trying to draw. That does not mean you copied it, because you did not have access to it.

This is why copyright searches are viewed as being dangerous, because to search is to access information. What if you did perform a search for non-registered copyright images and registered copyrighted images and happened to find something very similar to your shed design? You have now accessed a similar work. If you build your shed and use ideas from the work you found, you may well be infringing on another’s copyright. Put another way, even if you do a search, it does not avoid the infringement issue.

Thus, if you did copy your work shed design from a work, it follows you would know about that other work and you would not need to do a search. If you did not copy your design from something else, you will risk becoming informed of something similar by doing a search. Once you have done that, you are at risk to be sued for copyright infringement.

Confused? Join the crowd. Copyright law is convoluted and does not get much easier. Really, to get a good grasp on what you need to know, talk to a Los Angeles copyright and trademark lawyer. It is time well spent and may save you a lawsuit.

To learn more about David Alden Erikson, Attorney at Law, visit Daviderikson.com. Mr. Erikson specializes in Los Angeles fashion law, internet law, business litigation, trademark and copyright law.

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