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Copyright Registration, Agreements, & Assignments

Copyright Registration, Agreements, and Assignments

A copyright protects the value of your creative efforts. As a copyright owner, you may exercise the exclusive right to reproduce, distribute, and limit the use of your artistic work. Failure to protect intellectual property with a copyright may result in significant lost revenue.

Our Chicago intellectual property lawyers work with clients to help them register copyrights with the U.S. Copyright Office. We also assist with copyright assignments and licensing agreements, ensuring clients receive fair compensation for third party use of copyrighted material. Additionally, we have decades of experience in copyright litigation, helping our clients protect these important assets from misuse or infringement.

Intellectual Property Protected by Copyright

The Copyright Act of 1976

The Copyright Act of 1976, the basis for modern copyright law, includes the following types of works eligible for protection:

  • Literary Works – Reading material such as books, magazines, or translations
  • Performing Arts – Works performed for an audience like music, sound recordings, dance, and theater
  • Visual Arts – Items displayed for viewing such as jewelry, photographs, paintings, and sculptures (the Act was later revised in 1990 to include architecture)
  • Motion Pictures and Audiovisual Works – Works for viewing, including TV shows, movies, video games, and animation

The Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA)

Evolving technologies complicate classification. For example, motion pictures and audio-visual performances often meet criteria for more than one category. In 1998, the Digital Millennium Copyright Act updated existing laws to include new mediums. Now, digital and electronic works like webpages, blogs, software, and databases clearly benefit from copyright protection.

U.S. Copyright Registration

Copyrights automatically apply to works created in the United States as soon as the work physically exists. Registration with the U.S. Copyright Office is not mandatory, but it does guarantee several benefits:

  • The holder of a copyright certificate may sue for monetary damages in federal court
  • Courts can only award legal expenses of a trial to registered copyright holders
  • The work exists in the U.S. Copyright Office database, thereby reducing the risk of infringement
  • A certificate may be registered with U.S. Customs and Border Protection to prevent importation of infringing works into the U.S.

To register, applicants must submit a completed application form, a copy of the work, and filing fee to the U.S Copyright Office. The U.S. Copyright Office carefully reviews all applications for conflicts with existing works before issuing a certification.

A qualified copyright attorney can assist with expediting the copyright application and registration process. Our Chicago copyright lawyers work with clients from across the country, helping them navigate U.S. Copyright registration to protect these valuable assets.

International Copyright Protection

Copyright laws are unique to individual countries. A work reproduced in a foreign nation must observe that nation’s copyright laws. To protect against plagiarism abroad, the United States is party to dozens of treaties and trade agreements. The most often cited are The Berne Convention for The Protection of Literary and Artistic Works and The Universal Copyright Convention. To limit the import of counterfeit and pirated work, always register your copyright with the U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

Our experienced copyright attorneys can help you understand the nuances of international copyright laws and treaties, ensuring that your works are protected around the world.

Copyright Assignments and Agreements

You may transfer, loan or sell your copyright as a piece of property.

Copyright Assignments

A copyright assignment is a complete transfer of all rights to another owner. The law requires that the assignment must be in writing. Further, the assignment should be registered with the copyright office.

Copyright Agreements (Licensing)

A copyright owner may allow another party to use the work in a limited way, while the original owner retains full rights and ownership. These agreements should be in writing and detail all parties’ expectations.

Chicago Copyright Attorney

The legal team of Roth Fioretti helps clients protect creative works via copyright. We have a concentration in U.S. and international copyright registration, copyright agreements and assignments, and copyright infringement and litigation. Please contact us to schedule a consultation regarding your copyright issues.