Copyright Infringement

Copyright Infringement occurs when the rights of a copyright rights holder are infringed by others without a valid exception to infringement such as permission, fair use, public domain material, or independent creation.

The rights holder is often, but not always, the creator(s) of the material.  This may not be the case, however, if the creator has sold, transferred by gift, will, or intestate succession, licensed, or if the material was created as a work-for-hire.  A work for hire is created in certain circumstances in the course of an employee's employment, and the resulting copyright belongs to the employer.

Works in the public domain are not protected by copyright, such as where a once-copyrighted work's copyright has expired.  Fair use also does not constitute infringement: Fair use refers to unlicensed, uncompensated use of a portion of a copyrighted work in another work for research, parody, news purposes, or the like.  The original work must generally be cited in the fair use work.  Whether a particular use qualifies as fair use is a facts-and-circumstances test best made by a copyright lawyer with reference to certain established principles and prior case law.

If you want to avoid future copyright infringement actions:  Have your material reviewed for intellectual property issues by an attorney.

If you have been accused of or sued for copyright infringement:  You need an attorney to advise you of your legal standing and any defenses which may be available, and to assist you in defending or settling the matter.  If you have already been sued, there are specific deadlines within which you must respond, so it is important to organize your defense or other response quickly.

If your copyrighted material has been infringed:  You need an attorney to analyze your claim and any defenses which the alleged infringer may have or falsely attempt to assert, and to assist in drafting and sending a demand letter and/or in filing suit or reaching a settlement.  Often, having the infringer cease the infringement will be the first or only priority; other times, pursuing damages or an injunction will also be appropriate.

If you believe that Hollywood has stolen or copied your script, movie or reality TV idea, or song:  please read Help, Hollywood Stole My Idea!

Typically, it is necessary to review the material in question before advising a client regarding copyright infringement; such review and advice is billable time and is not conducting until after the copyright lawyer has been retained.  Copyright infringement legal work and advice is typically handled at an hourly rate of $425.  In rare instances, usually involving large amounts at stake and clear-cut infringement by an infringer with the ability to pay a judgment, contingency-fee representation may be available (almost always, clients must still advance costs; unlike other matters, these cases are usually reviewed for suitability prior to the firm being retained).

See also:

Copyright Registration

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Los Angeles California Copyright Lawyer