If An Online Photo Does Not Have a © or a Watermark, Can I Use It?

CMRS Law Common Questions, Copyright

Probably not.  There is a common misconception that if a photograph does not have the little ©, or some sort of watermark designating the picture as belonging to someone else, it is not protected by copyright law and is free for the taking.  That is simply not true.  Copyright protection attaches the moment an author fixes a form of creative expression …

What Exactly is Copyright Infringement?

CMRS Law Copyright

Many people throw around the term “copyright infringement” without fully understanding the legal elements of a copyright infringement claim.  Given the ease at which modern day media can be copied, especially over the internet, every person and business should have a clear understanding of copyright infringement so that they can protect themselves and their intellectual property. When Infringement Occurs When …

Who is Liable for Infringing Media on My Website: Me or My Web Designer?

CMRS Law Copyright, Internet Law

Both of you can be held liable.  As the end user that financially benefits from your website and because you have the ability to direct and supervise your web designer, you are liable for any copyright infringement committed by your web designer.  This is true whether or not you or your web designer actually knew that he or she infringed …

Patent, Trademark, or Copyright: Which Does Your Business Need?

CMRS Law Copyright, Trademark

Wondering whether your business needs a copyright, a patent, or a trademark?  Unsure as to which one you need?  Don’t worry, you’re not the first.  The type of intellectual property protection your business needs depends upon the subject matter you are trying to protect.  To ensure you are completely protected, it is important that you know what type of protection …

Top 5 Benefits of Copyright Registration

CMRS Law Common Questions, Copyright

Like trademarks, registration is not required to enjoy legal protection in a copyrightable work.  A copyright is obtained automatically by the author as soon as some creative form of expression is fixed in a tangible medium.  However, there are some significant benefits of registering your work with the United States Copyright Office.  These benefits include: 1.  Public notice of your …

Does My Business Need a Work for Hire Agreement?

CMRS Law Contracts, Copyright

The answer to this question is “Yes” if you want to own the work an independent contractor just created for your business without having to obtain the contractor’s permission and pay him or her royalties.  Typically, any work created by an independent contractor is owned by the contractor unless a work for hire agreement is signed. What is a Work …

Digital Millennium Copyright Act Safe Harbor Provisions

CMRS Law Copyright, Internet Law

If you operate a website that allows users to post or generate content, you may be liable for contributory copyright infringement.  With statutory damages between $750 and $30,000 per work, or actual damages, available to aggrieved parties, liability for infringement can easily run into the millions of dollars.  Luckily for online service providers, the Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998 …

What is a Copyright and What Does it Give Me?

CMRS Law Copyright

Copyright protection finds its roots in Article I, Section 8, Clause 8 of the Constitution, which gives Congress the power “[t]o promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries.”  Through this Constitutional power, Congress passed the Copyright Act of 1976.  This Act …

How long does a Copyright last?

Elliott Stapleton Copyright

The term of a copyright will depend on a few different factors. For purposes of this article I will assume the work was created after January 1, 1978. For works created by an author, the duration of the copyright lasts for  his or her entire life. Additionally, protection continues for an additional 70 years after the author’s death. If the …

Can I use a picture from the Internet?

Elliott Stapleton Copyright

It may seem harmless to use a picture from the Internet on your website, but when you copy and paste an image from one website to another you have infringed on the owner’s copyright. How will the owner ever know? While it is unlikely the owner of the image will ever visit your website, there are companies that exist for …