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Copyright Lawyer in Minnesota

Intellectual property is critical in today's competitive market, and yet advancements in this digital age make it easier than ever to violate intellectual property rights. That's especially true for anything you write or produce. Whether as an individual or an entity – your written creations risk copyright infringement in Minnesota if not protected. Violators can easily find material online and use it as their own to profit from it. It is important to protect your original work, and the most important and effective means of protection is copyright registration.

At Heritage Law Office, our copyright protection lawyer in Minnesota handles all types of copyright matters and will help you understand what the benefits are and how to continue or expand the protection of your intellectual property. Contact us today at 414-253-8500 to schedule a consultation. 

Overview of Copyright Law

Overview of Copyright Law

A copyright gives an author of an original work exclusive rights to their work, including the right to control and protect it. Copyrights cover a wide variety of different subject matters. 

Elements of a Copyright

Qualifying for a copyright is not very difficult. There are certain elements that must be met, including originality. The work cannot be a copy of anything else. Copyrights must also be tangible and at least a little creative. In other words, an idea cannot be copyrighted, but a written work can be.  

What Can Be Copyrighted

Original works of authorship can be copyrighted, including:

  • Poetry
  • Songs
  • Photography
  • Movies
  • Sculptures
  • Novels
  • Architectural Works

Slogans, symbols, and designs cannot be copyrighted. 

Types of Works That Can Be Copyrighted

Type of Work Examples Copyrightable Elements

Literary Works

Novels, Poems, Articles

Text and arrangement

Musical Works

Songs, Instrumental Compositions

Music and lyrics

Dramatic Works

Plays, Screenplays

Script and accompanying music

Pictorial, Graphic, and Sculptural Works

Paintings, Sculptures, Drawings

Visual aspects, not functional design

Motion Pictures

Movies, Television Shows

Visual elements, sound recordings, and script

Architectural Works

Buildings, Architectural Plans

Design and artistic elements, not functional aspects

The Rights a Copyright Provides

When the owner of a work copyrights it, they have the ability to: 

  • Reproduce; 
  • Distribute; and 
  • Sell the work. 

If the work is a play, they can perform it; if it is a movie, they can show it.

Copyright also allows the owner to prepare derivative works based on the original. 

Copyright owners can also authorize others to exercise the rights given to them by the copyright. 

Copyright Registration

Copyright Registration

Contrary to popular belief, copyright registration is not mandatory.  However, to best protect your intellectual property, you should register a copyright for it. The benefits of copyright registration are many and the process does not have to be complicated with a copyright lawyer in Minnesota guiding and advising you.

Benefits of Copyright Registration

One of the benefits of copyright registration is that it establishes evidence that the work has an owner on record. Also, should another party attempt to infringe on the copyright, the fact the copyright is registered allows the owner to bring a lawsuit against the infringing party (a rejected application may be used for the same purpose). 

If the copyright owner wants to seek statutory damages and attorney's fees in an infringement case, registration after publication or before the infringement occurs allows them to do so. 

Benefit Description

Legal Evidence of Ownership

Registration serves as prima facie evidence of the validity of the copyright and the facts stated in the registration document.

Ability to File a Lawsuit

Copyright registration is necessary to file an infringement lawsuit for works of U.S. origin.

Eligibility for Statutory Damages and Attorney's Fees

Registered works may qualify for statutory damages and attorney's fees in successful litigation.

Deterrence to Infringement

Registration makes the copyright status and the owner's information public, potentially deterring infringement.

Facilitation of Licensing and Assignments

Provides a public record from which licensing and transfers of rights can be confirmed and facilitated.

Copyright Registration Process

The copyright registration process can typically be completed online. Some works may be submitted electronically, yet others must have a hard copy, which will not be returned. 

Keep in mind, copyright information is public record and time limits apply as to when the registration must be filed.

Our copyright attorney at Heritage Law Office will ensure the copyright registration process in Minnesota is undertaken properly and timely to ensure you receive maximum benefits. 

Common Copyright Issues

Common Copyright Issues

Many challenges may arise with or throughout the copyright process. To provide context as to why it's important to seek legal counsel for copyright protection specifically and any intellectual property generally, some of the most common issues in the copyright process are briefly described below. 

Ownership Issues

Often, disagreements arise over who actually owns the copyright. 

A common example of this issue involves employee/employer situations. For example, if a person created original work that is copyrighted while in the employment of a company, then the company may own the copyright to the work. The opposite is typically true when the person creating the work is a freelancer. Many times this problem can be solved by reviewing relevant contracts, which hopefully address these matters and spell out who has a right to what. Without relevant terms and conditions in a contract, this issue becomes more problematic.

Time Limit on Copyrights

Many people fail to understand just how long copyright protects the original work. In most cases, it lasts for the life of the author (or creator) plus seventy years. This time limit varies based on the type of medium being copyrighted, so it is always best to confirm and not just assume how long a copyright lasts.  

Fair Use Exception

The Fair Use exception to copyright is often overlooked or not properly understood. It holds that copyrighted materials may be used under certain conditions. The type of original work and the way it is being used are both considered under the Fair Use exception. 

Common examples of when copyrighted materials may be used under this exception include:

  • Teaching purposes
  • Reporting the news
  • Conducting research
  • Providing criticism
Copyright Infringement 

Copyright Infringement 

Copyright infringement occurs when any person or entity violates the rights of the copyright owner. For example, if someone reproduces, performs, or displays a copyrighted work without the permission of the copyright owner, they have committed copyright infringement. To be guilty of copyright infringement, the person or entity that commits the infringement does not have to be seeking monetary gain. 

Proving Copyright Infringement 

Anyone that claims their copyright has been infringed upon must be able to prove that they are the owner of the copyrighted material and that their rights as such have been violated. They must also be able to show that the person or entity that violated their rights exceeded the fair use doctrine, which allows the use of copyrighted materials in certain situations and under certain conditions. 

Remedies for Copyright Infringement

Injunctions are the most commonly sought remedy by victims of copyright infringement. An injunction serves to stop the infringing party from continuing to violate the copyright. Permanent injunctions prevent the infringing party from ever engaging in the infringement again. 

Other civil and criminal remedies may be available in Minnesota to parties who have had their copyright infringed. It all depends on the facts and circumstances.

Contact an Intellectual Property Attorney in Minnesota Today

At Heritage Law Office, our copyright protection lawyer in Minnesota helps our clients obtain and maintain protection for their original works. You may be a business or an individual; in either case, your original work should benefit you, not someone else who attempts to use your work for their own benefit. Contact us today by either filling out the online form or contacting us at 414-253-8500 to schedule a consultation.

Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1. What constitutes originality in a copyrighted work?

Originality in a copyrighted work means that the work must originate from the creator and show a minimal degree of creativity. It must not be copied from another work and should possess at least a small amount of unique character or expression. This criterion is essential to distinguish copyrighted materials from those that are free for public use.

2. How does the Fair Use doctrine impact the use of copyrighted materials?

The Fair Use doctrine allows for limited use of copyrighted materials without the need for permission under specific conditions, such as educational purposes, commentary, criticism, or news reporting. This legal doctrine evaluates factors like the purpose of use, the nature of the copyrighted work, the amount used, and the effect of the use on the market value of the original work.

3. Can architectural works be copyrighted?

Yes, architectural works can be copyrighted. This includes the designs of buildings as expressed in architectural plans, drawings, or actual structures. Copyright protection covers the artistic and structural expression of the design but does not extend to the functional aspects of the building.

4. What is the process for registering a copyright?

Copyright registration involves submitting an application to the Copyright Office, along with a copy of the work and the applicable fee. The process can be completed online through the Copyright Office's electronic filing system. Registration is not mandatory but provides legal benefits, such as the ability to sue for copyright infringement and the potential to receive statutory damages.

5. What are the potential remedies for copyright infringement?

Remedies for copyright infringement can include injunctions to prevent further violations, monetary damages to compensate for financial losses, and, in severe cases, statutory damages. Legal recourse may vary based on the specifics of the infringement and the timeliness of the copyright registration. Civil and criminal penalties might also apply, depending on the severity and intent behind the infringement.

Contact Us Today

For a comprehensive plan that will meet your needs or the needs of a loved one, contact us today. Located in Downtown Milwaukee, we serve Milwaukee County, surrounding communities, and to clients across Wisconsin, Minnesota, Illinois, and California.