Copyright is historically the oldest of the intellectual property rights, which rights most notably encompass patents for inventions, trademarks, copyright and registered designs. Copyright does not protect the underlying idea of a thing, or names or words for things. It protects certain defined categories of works, such as musical, artistic and literary works (including data and photographs), sound recordings, films, computer programs, published editions and broadcasts. Although copyright is registerable in some countries, it is a right that arises without the requirement of registration, requiring only reduction to a material form (i.e. writing or drawing) and originality in its creation. It has a definite term of protection which typically arises (depending on the work it applies to) upon creation or publication of the work. Commonly the term of statutory protection is centred on a 50-year term, but many countries habitually extend copyright protection for works through legislation, as valuable copyrighted works come up for expiry. In the USA, for example, the terms is centred around a 70 year period currently.
Although copyright (unlike patents, trademarks and designs) may seem easy and ‘free’ at the outset, it is, in fact, a minefield owing to difficult questions of ownership, authorship, commissions to create works, proving originality, proving infringement (e.g. how much of the work was copied or may be copied? Was their both objective and subjective copying?), how to alert and inform the public regarding your copyright, how to police the internet for copying, how to claim your damages in different jurisdictions, how to commercialize your works, and more.
We can advise on those works and countries in which registration of copyright can and should be obtained, and file those applications for you in the most effective way; advise on licensing and assignment of copyright, and copyright best practices, represent you in copyright infringement claims when you are either plaintiff or defendant. Copyright, due to the operation of the Berne Convention (administered by the World Intellectual Property Organization WIPO) and the TRIPS Agreement of the WTO offers cross-border protection for your copyright in most instances, but under the laws and rules of the country where the infringement occurs (not where the copyright arose). Copyright is ubiquitous and every business and person owns copyright in one form or another. It is a right that crosses borders. We can provide expertise in copyright ownership, licensing, assignment, registration and enforcement practices worldwide.