How Do New York Artists Protect Their Rights In Their Own Creations?

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Robert L. Powley - Intellectual Property - Super Lawyers

Answered by: Robert L. Powley

Located in New York, NYPowley & Gibson, P.C.

Phone: 212-226-5054
Fax: 212-226-5085

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New York is blessed with many gifted artists, writers, photographers, graphic designers and other creative professionals. When they create original work, they want protection against appropriation by third parties. This includes their customers who may be purchasing the creative asset.

To fully protect your creative rights, it is critical to register for copyright protection, which is governed by Federal Law. Obtaining a copyright is not only affordable – but it also gives you the ability to file a lawsuit should someone infringe upon your copyright.

What Is A Copyright?

A copyright provides legal protection for individuals who create original works of authorship that exist in a tangible form. For legal purposes, original applies to those works that the artist created out of their own intellect without copying or plagiarizing from another source, although there are limited exceptions.

These works may be music, literature, software or other artistic works. Once you establish copyright protection, you are better equipped to control any reproduction and the exhibition of your work. 

The Dichotomy Of Ideas And Expression In Copyright Law

U.S. copyright law protects the expression of ideas that are in a tangible medium. In other words, the creative work must have a physical presence that others can view. Creative ideas, processes or basic facts are not eligible for copyright protection.

The key distinction in intellectual property law is determining the difference between an idea and an expression:

  • Ideas: An idea is the formulation of a thought about a specific topic.
  • Expressions: Expressions are the physical manifestation of the idea in a particular medium or media.

The Benefits Of Copyright Registration

Artists do have some automatic protections granted under U.S copyright law. It is possible to obtain these protections automatically. However, there are still several advantageous reasons of obtaining a registered copyright through the United States Copyright Office.

The legal benefits for establishing formal copyright protection include the following:

  • A registered copyright provides a public notice that clearly states your expression has protection. This gives you more legal authority if someone infringes on your copyright due to an alleged innocent infringement.
  • Other parties may seek to dispute your copyright protection. Registering your copyright increases the validity of your claim against these legal challenges
  • If someone does infringe upon your copyright, registering your work is necessary for pursuing an infringement lawsuit. This is perhaps the most important benefit. The infringement lawsuit allows you to pursue financial damages and an injunction against the parties who violated your rights.

Establishing formal copyright protect is not expensive. You can often complete the process in several months. That said, the process does have some complexities, which makes it prudent to speak to a skilled intellectual property lawyer. Your attorney can help you to achieve this valuable protection as quickly as possible.

Disclaimer: The answer is intended to be for informational purposes only. It should not be relied on as legal advice, nor construed as a form of attorney-client relationship.

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