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Copyright Applications

At its base our copyright practice entails registering copyrights for clients. To register a copyright, we will first ensure that the work qualifies for copyright protection, and then determine authorship for the work. As part of this process, we will also determine whether the author wishes to be identified. If not, we will determine if the work qualifies for treatment as an anonymous or pseudonymous work. In any case, we will generally collect some personal information about the author, and details regarding the author’s creation of the work.

We will also determine ownership of the copyrights. If the author is not the owner of all of the rights, we will address any issue of ownership that must be resolved before filing for registration. Finally, we will obtain appropriate copies of the work, or in some cases identifying materials for the work, and will prepare the application for filing. If after examination of the application the registration is granted, the filing date for the application will become the effective date of registration.

It is very rare for a properly prepared copyright application to be questioned by the Copyright Office. If the Copyright Office does issue a refusal or request additional information, they will send us a letter setting forth the reason for refusal or required information. We will then respond in writing, as may be appropriate.

During or in connection with the application process, we will advise the applicant as required to ensure that they get the most out of U.S. copyright law. This advice may be as simple as providing guidance on the correct way to display a copyright notice. This advice may also be more complex, and highly tailored to the client’s particular situation. For example, in the case of a prolific author or content owner, we may develop a complete effective strategy for registration of multiple works.

Contact Us now to discuss copyright applications with an experienced copyright attorney.

Copyright Transfers

Any part or all of the copyrights to a work may be transferred, such as by sale or assignment of the specified rights, as may be recorded in a confirmatory assignment document. As a general rule, a transfer of copyrights may be by any means. However, to be a valid transfer it must meet certain standards set by the Copyright Laws of the United States.

One of those requirements, among others, is that the transfer must be in writing. While the requirement for a written document of transfer is familiar in the context of a sale of copyrights, the requirement applies to virtually every transfer. One transfer that is often found to be invalid is a transfer by gift. Regardless of the circumstances, we can prepare appropriate documents for transfer of any or all copyrights in a work, and then ensure that the transfer is properly recorded.

In a traditional publishing agreement, some or all of the copyrights in the work to be published are transferred to the publisher. When this happens the publishing agreement will generally include a reversionary rights clause, which sets forth the circumstances under which the prior rights holder may take back the earlier transferred copyrights. Like all transfers of copyrights, the advice of an experienced copyright lawyer should be sought out. We can negotiate and prepare publishing agreements.

If you are contemplating a purchase, sale, gift or other transfer of copyrights Contact Us now to discuss copyright transfers with an experienced copyright attorney.

Copyright Licenses

The copyright laws of the United States do not require a written instrument for a copyright license. In most cases, however, it is plainly foolish to rely on an oral copyright license agreement. Whether you are the party granting the license or the party taking the license, you should insist on a written license agreement. Our copyright attorney services include negotiating and preparing copyright licenses, whether the client is the licensor or the licensee.

To prepare a copyright license we first learn the client’s desired terms, and then typically suggest additional terms designed to ensure that the client’s desired outcome is achieved during the license. We may also recommend terms for dealing with matters such as bankruptcy of a party, succession of a party or mergers.

As part of this process we verify that the desired license terms do not conflict with prior agreements. When drafting the license, we also ensure that the scope of the agreement meets the client’s needs without being subject to abuse by the other party. In any case, the terms of the license are tailored to the specific scenario.

If you are contemplating granting or taking a copyright license Contact Us now to discuss copyright licenses with an experienced copyright attorney.

Termination of Transfers and Licenses

Any transfer or license of copyrights may be terminated at will by the author or the author’s heirs if particular actions are taken within a specific window of time. We can determine if a person is eligible to terminate a copyright transfer or license. If so, we can determine the timeline on which the person must act to effect the termination.

To effect the termination we will prepare a notice of termination according to the requirements of the Copyright Office. We will then timely serve the notice of termination on the grantee or the grantee’s successor in title. Finally, we will timely record the notice of termination to make it effective.

Contact Us now to discuss termination of a copyright transfer or license with an experienced copyright attorney.

Copyright Ownership Issues

Copyright ownership issues arise in various contexts, including within employer and employee relationships, independent contractor relationships, and terminations of copyright transfers or licenses. In actual employer and employee relationships a work prepared by an employee within the scope of their employment is deemed to be a work made for hire, in which case the employer is deemed to be the author of the work.

Because the author of a work is the initial owner of the copyrights to the work, no transfer is required. The employer is automatically the author of the work and thus the owner of the copyrights to the work. Notwithstanding application of the work made for hire doctrine, employers are strongly advised to include fallback provisions in an employee agreement to avoid disputes as to the scope of an employee’s employment or even the employment status of the employment. We are available to provide comprehensive terms regarding ownership of intellectual property for inclusion in company policies or employment agreements, or as standalone agreements.

When dealing with independent contractors, a written agreement is always required when the contractor is preparing any copyrightable work. We can prepare independent contractor agreements specifically tailored to the circumstance to capture ownership of the copyrights. In preparing such an agreement we will generally implement tiered provisions that work to ensure that the employer will own the copyrights under any circumstance.

The termination provisions of U.S. copyright law work to create some difficulty for a purchaser of a copyright, a recipient of a gifted copyright, or a copyright licensee. Any agreement to waive the termination provisions is void, and will not be enforced. We work with clients to avoid application of the termination provisions to the extent allowable by law.

This often entails making sure that the work made for hire provisions are properly utilized. In the case of gifts, we will work with a client’s estate planner to include provisions in the client’s will that prevent heirs from exercising termination rights to undo a gift made by the client.

Contact Us now to speak with an experienced copyright attorney about terms of employment or estate planning to avoid termination of copyright transfers or licenses.

Copyright Litigation

We are available to defend spurious copyright claims or to prosecute copyright infringements in the federal courts. In the case of copyright infringements, however, it is often useful to pursue settlement of the matter before resorting to the courts. Similarly, when a client is confronted by a meritorious claim of infringement, we are often able to negotiate settlement on reasonable terms. By working with U.S. Customs we can have infringing works intercepted at the U.S. border, potentially avoiding costly litigation.

In order to bring a copyright infringement claim in the federal courts the copyrights must first be either registered or refused registration. Failure to seek registration prior to the infringement will generally limit the available monetary damages and preclude recovery of attorney fees. Similarly, in order to seek the assistance of U.S. Customs for the seizure and destruction of infringing works the copyrights must first be registered or an application for copyright must be pending before the Copyright Office. Consequently, it is very important to seek registration of your copyrights as soon as possible.

Contact Us now to consult with an experienced copyright attorney regarding copyright infringements, litigation or border enforcement.

Other Copyright Matters

If you have a different copyright issue Contact Us now to discuss it with an experienced copyright attorney. It is very likely that we can help you.

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San Antonio, Texas