when someone copies (or infringes) your creative work, it’s not only frustrating, but it can also hurt your business through diverted sales or reputation loss—especially in online environments. fortunately, there are ways to combat online work burglars. an intellectual property or copyright attorney can help you with: (1) copyright registration (particularly early registration); (2) digital millennium copyright act (dmca) “takedowns”; and (3) follow-up copyright enforcement.
many different types of creative works can be registered with the united states copyright office. examples of copyrightable works include:
fabric patterns or designs
books and stories
copyright registration is important for enforcing copyright and it offers many other benefits to the authors of creative works. first, copyright registration is required before enforcing copyright in the federal court system according to the recent united states supreme court decision of fourth estate pub. benefit corp. v. wall-street.com. second, if a work is registered before infringement begins, authors are entitled to: (a) elect statutory damages against the infringer of up to $30,000 per work; (b) attorney’s fees; and (c) costs. third, copyright registration optimizes the effectiveness of dmca takedowns, described in more detail below. fourth, a u.s. copyright registration can convey similar benefits and rights in other countries through treaty.
luckily, copyright registration is a relatively inexpensive form of intellectual property protection. a copyright attorney can help you strategize how to best protect and register your works for as little as a few hundred dollars (including all copyright office filing fees). it may take the copyright office six or more months to examine a copyright application and issue a registration; but, where necessary, examination and registration may be expedited through payment of additional fees to the copyright office.
the digital millennium copyright act (dmca) allows authors to quickly remove infringing content from websites through the web hosts and service providers that support the infringers’ website. competing product listings or even entire web pages or websites may be removed within days of a carefully crafted complaint. in order to be successful, dmca takedowns must be: (i) properly directed to correctly identified web hosts and service providers; (ii) include required statutory language and information; and (iii) comply with web host and service provider policies. follow-ups may be required. as mentioned above, prior copyright registration can increase the likelihood of a successful dmca takedown. an experienced copyright attorney can help you through this process.
follow-up copyright enforcement
following copyright registration and dmca takedown, it is often advantageous to conduct follow-up enforcement to: (i) deter further or repeat infringement; and (ii) recoup damages or costs. again, an intellectual property or copyright attorney can help you conduct the proper investigations, due diligence, and factual and legal analysis to help you determine whether this makes sense for your business and objectives.