Even if you are not in the business of creating works of authorship, odds are you use or license someone else’s copyrighted works.

You need an intellectual property attorney with knowledge of copyright law and experience handling the issues that arise in this unique area of law. A copyright lawyer from Lantz Law Group understands U.S. copyright laws and how they affect your business.

What Is Copyright?

A type of intellectual property, copyrights are intangible property rights in “works of authorship.” These rights are exclusive, meaning the owner can exclude people and businesses from using the copyrighted work. Copyrightable works must have original elements that fall within the following types of expression:

  • Musical compositions
  • Sound recordings
  • Literary works, including software code
  • Dramatic works
  • Choreography
  • Visual artwork, including sculptures and photographs
  • Audiovisual works
  • Architectural works

Sometimes, problematic uses involve straight copying. But in many cases, a dispute arises over similar but not identical uses. The copyright on a work can cover non-identical but substantially similar uses.

As a result, the copyright owner can send a cease and desist letter for a broad range of uses that stretch the definition of “substantially similar.”

Certain infringing uses fall within an exception to the Copyright Act. Fair use allows the use of copyrighted materials in minor ways consistent with the principles of free speech.

Copyright Issues We Help With in Denver

If your company owns copyrights, they are intangible assets that add value to your business. If your company uses copyrighted works, they can bring value to your company if you clear your rights to use them. These principles might seem simple, but they raise complicated issues, including:

Copyright Protection

Eligible works are copyrighted when they are fixed in a medium of expression. Thus, your video has copyright protection from the time you record it. This means you can sell copies, license use, and send out cease and desist letters without taking any further steps.

While you do not need to register your copyright, a registration provides substantive benefits. To register a copyright, your Denver copyright lawyer prepares an application for registration and submits it to the Copyright Office along with a copy or image of your work.

The owner of a copyright registration gains the right to claim statutory damages. This means your copyright infringement lawyers will not need to prove your damages after winning a copyright litigation. can award enhanced statutory damages of up to $150,000 for willful infringement.

Copyright Infringement

Copyright infringement happens when a person or entity does any of the following:

  • Copies the work
  • Prepares derivative works based on the work
  • Distributes copies of the work by sale, rental, lease, or lending
  • Performs the work
  • Displays the work
  • Transmits a performance of a sound recording work

How Can a Lawyer Help Fight Copyright Infringement?

Whether you suspect someone has used your copyrighted work or you have been accused of infringement, a copyright law attorney from Lantz Law Group will:

  • Investigate the allegedly infringing use
  • Determine the applicability of the Fair Use exception and other defenses
  • Contact the other party about the use and try to resolve the situation
  • Represent you in court if a copyright infringement action becomes necessary

In addition to monetary damages, a winning copyright owner can also get an injunction to stop the infringing use. They can even get an order requiring the infringer to destroy any copies still in their possession.

Copyright Licensing

A copyright license is a contract granting a business permission to use a copyrighted work. Thus, a video game manufacturer that wants to make a game about a comic book superhero will get a license from the comic book publisher. The licensee will pay license fees, also called royalties, to the licensor as payment for the use.

How Can a Lawyer Help with Copyright Licensing?

A Denver copyright lawyer assists licensors and licensees by:

  • Performing due diligence on the other parties involved in the license
  • Negotiating the terms of the license, including the duration and license fees
  • Drafting the licensing agreement incorporating the agreed-upon terms
  • Communicating with the other party to resolve any disputes that arise
  • Litigating any disputes that the parties cannot settle

Copyright holders must consent to license all uses except musical works. The Copyright Act allows musicians to record a cover version of anyone else’s song as long as they obtain a compulsory license and pay a royalty. The composer cannot refuse to grant the license.

Transactions Involving Copyrights

Copyrights can be treated like any other assets in a transaction with the copyright owner — they can be sold, transferred, or given away, for example.

Keep in mind that ownership of the copyright and the copyrighted work are not the same. A band sells downloads of its song while keeping the copyright. A movie studio sells the right to stream its movie without giving up the copyright. The copyright determines who can produce and distribute copies.

Thus, the business transactions where you need copyright attorneys would typically involve an asset sale, merger, or bankruptcy.

Copyright FAQS

Here are some answers to frequently asked questions about copyrights:

Who owns the copyright in a work created by my employees?

Under the definition of “work made for hire,” employers own works created by employees within the scope of their employment. Employers often create a backup plan by hiring a copyright attorney to draft an employee assignment agreement that requires workers to transfer copyrights to the employer.

What should I do if someone else is using my work?

If possible, get a copy of the allegedly infringing use and contact a Denver copyright attorney. The attorney can investigate the source of the use and analyze whether the use infringes your rights.

What should I do if I receive a cease and desist letter?

Take the accused product to a copyright lawyer who can analyze the use and determine whether any defenses, like fair use, apply.

Contact an Experienced Copyright Lawyer in Denver Today

In the U.S. service economy, intellectual property is the most valuable asset for many companies. Copyrights ensure that creators receive the reward for their efforts.

Whether you are involved in a dispute or transaction, an experienced copyright lawyer from Lantz Law Group will help you protect your interests. Our business attorneys represent businesses in the Denver metro area and beyond.

Contact us by phone at 719-212-2022 or online to learn how we can help with your copyright matter.