Copyright FAQs

Find answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about copyrights below. For a review of your specific copyright case, call (800) 451-4041 for a free consultation, or contact our local offices to speak with a copyright attorney in Albany, New York City, Phoenix, Washington DC, or Boston.

What Types of Work are Protected by Copyright?

Copyright is a form of legal protection provided for original works of authorship. Copyright protection is automatic upon creation of an original work in a fixed and tangible form. Types of work protected by copyright include:

  • Literary Works
  • Musical Works & Lyrics
  • Dramatic Works & Choreography
  • Artwork, Sculptures & Graphics
  • Websites
  • Computer Software
  • Fabric Design
  • Motion Pictures & Audio Visual Works
  • Color Arrangements

In general, copyright protection gives the owner of the original work the exclusive right to:

  • Reproduce and distribute the original work to the public by sale, lease or rental
  • Prepare derivative works (i.e., make a movie based on a book)
  • Perform or display the copyrighted work publicly
  • Authorize others to do the above

Why is Copyright Registration Important?

Although copyright protection exists from the moment the work is created, many authors choose to register their work to obtain a certificate of registration, and to ensure the facts of their copyright are on public record. More importantly, copyright registration is required in order to pursue a copyright infringement claim in court.

How Can Co-Authorship Disputes be Avoided?

When two or more authors materially contribute to a work, the rights of the authors may not be obvious, and co-authorship disputes can result. To prevent situations that may lead to co-authorship disputes, a contract attorney who specializes in intellectual property law may draft a collaboration agreement between all parties. A collaboration agreement typically defines the responsibilities, compensation and control of each author. The agreement may also designate how credit will be presented, and outline the approval process for transferring copyright ownership and licensing.

What is a Copyright Assignment?

In order to legally transfer ownership of a copyright, the transfer must be made in writing, signed by both the old and new owner, and notarized. The document used to transfer ownership of a copyright to another person is known as a Copyright Assignment. When transferring copyright ownership, an intellectual property attorney can help draft the Copyright Assignment. The attorney will include details of the work or works to be transferred, and ensure that it contains all necessary language in order to record the assignment with the United States Copyright Office.

When is a Work Made For Hire Agreement Used?

Under copyright law, authors automatically own the copyright to any work they create, so many companies use a Work Made for Hire Agreement when hiring an independent contractor, or commissioning a writer or artist to work on a project. An intellectual property attorney can assist with creating a Work Made For Hire Agreement to ensure that the contractor does not retain the rights over the product or work created, and ensure that the copyrights are transferred to the purchaser of the work.

What is a Digital Millennium Copyright Act Takedown Request?

Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) was enacted in 1998 to create an updated version of copyright laws to deal specifically with the challenges of regulating digital material. A Digital Millennium Copyright Act Takedown Request, also known as a DMCA notice, informs a company, web host, search engine or internet service provider that they are hosting or linking to material that is infringing on a copyright. Takedown requests made under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act are often used by copyright infringement attorneys to help clients assert their rights against copyright infringers without going to court.


The contents of this webpage are for informational purposes only and not for the purpose of providing legal advice. Please call (800) 451-4041 for a free consultation, or contact our local offices to speak with a copyright attorney in Albany, New York City, Phoenix, Washington DC, or Boston.