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US cyber law lawyerWhen starting a new business, it is important to take the necessary precautions to protect your company. If you develop a website, create a logo, or develop any original content the possibility of a copyright dispute is entirely plausible. First and foremost, it is important to protect your intellectual property from being used by another company. It is also possible that disputes could arise if another company believes you have used their copyrighted property. Below we will examine some of the nuances of copyright disputes and how you can protect yourself and your business.

Protecting Your Property

Ensuring that your property is properly protected is a necessity for every business. The first and most important step you can take is registering your property with the U.S. Copyright Office. Registration does not just apply to your company’s logo, you can protect text, images, and graphics, to ensure that your property is not used by a competitor. If you believe your property is being infringed upon, it is time to act. Working with an attorney can lead to a quick resolution. If the infringer is noncompliant, it may be time to pursue consequential legal action.

Fighting an Infringement Accusation

If you are notified by a copyright owner that you have used their property, it is important not to panic. The safest step you can take is notifying an experienced copyright attorney. Your attorney will help you analyze whether the claim is valid, and whether or not you actually infringed on the copyright. If you infringed, your attorney will help you take the necessary steps to remedy the situation. In many cases, you will simply be asked to cease the use of copyrighted materials. If the accusing party wants to take substantial legal action, you need an attorney that will aggressively represent you in court.

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FL copyright lawyerCopyrighting your intellectual property is simply a good idea. When you have put so much time and effort into creating something, the last thing you want is for others to be able to steal your work and cash in on it themselves. Copyrights can protect a wide array of property, though it does not cover your ideas, operational methods, or facts. The following, however, can be protected with copyright:

  • Written work like novels, poetry, short stories, etc.
  • Dramatic writings
  • Movies
  • Musicals and songs
  • Art such as paintings, drawings, and more
  • Architectural designs

Can Your Website Be Copyrighted?

Although your actual website and domain name do not fall on the list of items that can be covered by copyright, the content you place on the website (or at least some of it) does. There is a fine line about what can be covered or not. For example:

  • A book of recipes can be copyrighted, while a list of ingredients cannot
  • A song can be copyrighted, while the name of a band cannot
  • A written expression or work of art can often be copyrighted, while a slogan or logo cannot (although some of these may qualify for trademarking)
  • A written or drawn representation of your idea may qualify to be copyrighted, but the actual idea itself cannot

How to Establish a Copyright on Your Works

An author or artist who has created a particular work is eligible to copyright that work. If more than one person was involved in the creation, then the joint authors or artists must both be involved in the copyright process. The work must not have been created as part of the creator’s duties under employment for another party.

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Florida fair use attorneyIf you are planning to use someone else’s copyrighted photographs, music, or other creative works in your business enterprise, you need to be very careful that you do not commit illegal copyright infringement. If you reproduce another person’s copyrighted work without permission and due compensation, you could be sued for damages.

However, not every unlicensed use of a copyrighted work is unlawful. One of the most important issues in copyright law is the concept of “fair use.” The legal doctrine of fair use permits the use of copyrighted music, images, and other creative works in limited circumstances that are considered crucial to protecting the freedom of expression. Examples of fair uses include news reporting, nonprofit educational activities, and critique or commentary.

A user of copyrighted material and the copyright holder often disagree over the differences between fair use and unlawful use. This may result in a lawsuit in which the copyright holder seeks damages from a user of copyrighted material for what they clearly see as copyright infringement, while the user argues that they are protected by the fair use doctrine. Ultimately, the court sides with the law, which applies four specific criteria.

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