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Copyright is used to protect an individual’s or business’ creativity. A copyright begins protecting your work from the moment it is created. However, registering your copyright will allow you to assert a wider range of protections and rights. Preventing your work from copyright infringement should be a priority as a copyright owner. If you or an associate needs to know more about copyright protections, you should speak with an experienced Fayetteville copyright attorney.

At Gunn Kieklak Dennis, LLP, our experienced copyright attorneys have extensive experience in copyright law. From registering a copyright to litigating a copyright infringement case, we understand how important it is to protect your creative work from being used illegally. To schedule a confidential consultation, call us at 479-717-9068 or reach us online.

How to Create a Copyright in Arkansas

Under U.S. copyright law, your “original work of authorship” is protected by copyright once you affix it in a “tangible medium.” A tangible medium means your work can be written down or placed in a form that can be perceived in other ways. An original work of authorship is one that is created by a human author and one that exhibits a “minimal degree of creativity.”

If two or more authors are responsible for creating a single work of authorship, they will be considered joint authors, and will each have an indivisible interest in the original work. Alternatively, if multiple authors create a collective work, each author’s contributions will be divisible from the work as a whole. An example of this would be an anthology composed of several different short stories.

Examples of original works that are copyrightable include:

  • Literary creations like novels
  • Musical works and musical notes or words used to perform the work
  • Paintings, sculptures, and graphic arts
  • Films and music created to accompany the film
  • Architectural works
  • Computer programs

This is not an exclusive list of works that are copyrightable. There are many other types of original works that are not listed above, or that can fit into these broad categories.

There are several works that cannot be protected by copyright:

  • Ideas, discoveries, business methods, or concepts
  • Anything that is not translated to a tangible medium
  • Names, phrases, and slogans (trademarks typically cover these)
  • Ingredient lists

If you wish to know more about what protections copyright can offer, you should continue reading and speak with an experienced Fayetteville intellectual property lawyer.

Enforcing a Copyright

While you do not need to file with the U.S. Copyright Office to obtain a copyright, there are no disadvantages to having a registered copyright. Having a registered copyright will permit you to effectively pursue a copyright infringement claim if a person or business utilizes your work without your permission.

Generally, there are two elements that must be proven if a plaintiff is looking to prevail in a copyright infringement claim. First, the copyright owner must show that the infringer produced work that is “substantially similar” to their own work. Next, the copyright owner must also show that the infringing party was able to access the work of the copyright owner. For example, if the copyright owner wrote and published a unique novel that became extremely popular and the infringer copied various topics of that novel, this would be considered copyright infringement.

There is no easy way to protect your copyright internationally. However, depending on the laws of certain foreign countries, it is possible that your copyright can be protected under certain circumstances. Countries that have entered into international agreements with the United States may offer protection for U.S. copyrights, allowing you to protect your works in those countries as well.

If a plaintiff prevails in a copyright infringement claim, the copyright owner is entitled to the money the infringer made from the illegal use of their work or any profits the owner would have earned. If the copyright owner has registered their work, they may also receive statutory damages that will be determined by the judge in the case, and even attorneys’ fees in some cases.

What Rights Do Copyright Owners Have in Arkansas?

As mentioned, copyright protections begin once your original work is recorded in a tangible medium. You are not legally required to register your copyright with the U.S. Copyright Office but registering it will help if you need to file a lawsuit for copyright infringement.

Copyright registration puts the public on notice of your copyright claim and offers other advantages. For example, if your copyright is registered within five years of publication, the validity of your copyright will be presumed if it is challenged. As mentioned, registering your copyright will allow you to seek statutory damages, attorneys’ fees, and other expenses if your copyright was infringed. Copyright registration also entitles you to protection from the importation of items that infringe on your copyright.

As long as the copyright was created on or after January 1, 1978, a copyright will last for the life of the author plus 70 years after the author passes away. If multiple authors created the work, then the copyright term will last for 70 years after the last surviving author passes away.

A copyright owner also has other exclusive rights:

  • The right to reproduce your work
  • The right to create derivative works based upon your original work
  • The right to sell copies of your work to members of the public
  • The right to rent, lease, or lend the ownership rights to your work
  • The right to perform your work publicly for financial gain
  • The right to display your work publicly, like a painting or sculpture

It is important to understand that a copyright owner does not have plenary rights to use and profit from their copyright. One exception to a copyright owner’s rights is the ability of other parties to have “Fair Use” of the copyright. The doctrine of “Fair Use” permits others to use a copyrighted work to fulfill educational and research purposes. The Fair Use doctrine can be used for the following purposes:

  • Satirical purposes
  • News reporting
  • Educational programs
  • Scholarly research

The Fair Use exception does not permit a person to completely appropriate a copyrighted work for their own purposes. To determine whether the adoption of a copyrighted work should be considered as fair use or an infringement of the copyright, there are several factors that are weighed by a court:

  • The nature of the use of the copyrighted work and whether it was used for profit or nonprofit
  • Whether the copyrighted work is based on fact or fiction (easier to receive fair use for a factual work)
  • Whether a significant portion of the copyrighted work was utilized
  • Whether the fair use of the copyright is affecting the monetary value of the copyrighted work

Work with Our Fayetteville Copyright Lawyers

If you or a family member needs assistance with managing a copyright, you should speak with an experienced Fayetteville copyright lawyer. At Gunn Kieklak Dennis, LLP, our attorneys are dedicated to providing you with personalized attention for all your copyright-related needs. Our firm serves individuals, families, and businesses from Fayetteville and across Northwest Arkansas, and we would be proud to represent you. To schedule your confidential consultation to discuss your copyright claim, contact us at 479-717-9068 or reach us online.