If you have created original works of authorship and they have been stolen, you will need to hire top-rated and experienced copyright defense litigators. You will need a consultation with those copyright attorneys to determine if litigation should be filed immediately. Having copyright-protected works of authorship “stolen” can come in a variety of forms. Content uploaded onto the internet without permission — like a photo or part of a book you have written — can often be resolved without filing litigation. A “take-down” notice can be sent along with a demand for payment and/or a licensing agreement can be offered. By contrast, if someone claims to actually OWN the copyright to your art, music, etc., then litigation is probably required.
The type of lawyer you need is, first, one with extensive and deep knowledge of copyright law. There are, for example, many lawful uses of copyright-protected materials that are considered “fair use” and general concepts and ideas are not copyrightable. Not too long ago, there was a famous litigated case involving a filmed version of a scene from a book. The scene involved the use of a handgun as foreplay to a sexual encounter. The court held that the general idea of using a gun as foreplay was not copyrightable. And, then, as to the filmed scene, the court held that it was sufficiently different from the scene described in the book that there was no copyright infringement.
A copyright law firm is also needed because there are certain legal requirements that must be met before federal copyright infringement litigation can be started. As one example, copyrighted material must be registered with the U.S. Copyright Office as a prerequisite to initiating such litigation. The U.S. Supreme Court recently determined that registration must be fully accomplished before the litigation could be filed. This matters because there are time deadlines — statutes of limitations — by which litigation must be filed. If the deadlines are missed, then your copyright infringement case will be dismissed. The statute of limitations for copyright violation is three years for civil lawsuits which means you must have your lawsuit on file within three years of discovering the copyright violation.
A copyright attorney is also needed for ensuring that take-down notices are properly sent and sent to the correct parties. Generally, a take down notice is one that claims ownership of a copyright-protected work and demands a ceasing and desisting of the infringing behavior. Most commonly, this is a demand for removal of the work from the internet. But a notice of this sort is also used to demand that a work be removed from display, that a work — such a music — not be performed, and more
The type of lawyer you need is, second, one with broader knowledge of intellectual property law. As noted, offering a licensing agreement is one option as a solution to copyright infringement. This entails giving permission for the use of your copyright in exchange for payment of royalty fees. Another option is the sale and transfer of the copyright. A law firm with a solid grounding in intellectual property law will know how to offer legal advice and how to get the license agreement or purchase/sale agreement drafted and executed.
Contact the Copyright Litigators at Revision Legal