Copyright Part Three: A Work of Authorship

The U.S. Copyright Office designates copyright protection for “… original works of authorship fixed in any tangible medium of expression, now known or later developed… ” (see 17 USC § 102(a)). Essentially there are three parts to the protection: (1) being a work of authorship, which we explore in more detail here, (2) being original, and (3) being fixed in a tangible medium of expression. The law provides a non-exhaustive list of articles protected as “works of authorship.” Here, we clarify literary works a bit and delve into some other obscure areas of copyright protection.

Story Characters original to your literary or dramatic work or motion picture are protectable. If one were to copy the main traits of your story characters, much of the dialogue, and the series of detailed actions of your story, including gestures, s/he will have violated your copyright.

Computer Programs, included within literary works protection, are inherently functional. However, you may still have “protectable nuggets” (Computer Associates International v. Altai). An initial step is to identify, by descending levels, the structure of the computer program. Filter out things, like elements toward efficiency and parts taken from the public domain, that will not get copyright protection. Also filter out non-original material, like code or algorithms copied from others, that will not be protectable by you. If there are “protectable nuggets” then seek an attorney for help.

Pictorial and Graphics that use your same vantage point, colors the sky similarly, copies details of buildings originally created by you, and copies other specific expressive elements, infringes on your copyright. A work can be functional and still have protected creative expression. For example, the protected expression of a mask can be separated from the non-protectable function of it.

Non-Useful Articles, which are not specifically and solely designed to be used, will get copyright protection. For instance, there was no copyright protection for a sculptor’s bike rack design (Brandir International v. Cascade Pacific Lumber). Examples of “non-useful” articles are a toy airplane or a painting. Similarly, even though people use computer programs, maps, and clocks, these are still “non-useful” articles within the meaning of the statute, because each conveys information.

Derivative Works, which are works based on one or more preexisting works, are protectable to the extent of the material contributed by the author of the derivative work. A derivative work may be based on a copyrighted work (like a parody derivative of a work) or a work from the public domain (like a derivative of the novel Pride and Prejudice). A translation, musical arrangement, dramatization, fictionalization, motion picture version, sound recording, art reproduction, abridgment, condensation, or any other form of an original work are derivative works. Other examples include editorial revisions, musicals, translations of a novel, sequel to a movie, and a country arrangement of a rock song.

Are you trying to conduct preliminary research on whether or not you have a legal claim to raise before you consult an attorney?

Are you without legal representation at the moment?

Are you a student researching for a paper?

Copyright Fraud

Protecting trade secrets and intellectual property, and taking action against infringement, has actually become extremely difficult in the modern international business world.

If you do have a concern that involves proprietary information or about copyright fraud, then in some cases a private investigation agency could be an ideal choice for assistance.

Perhaps this is even more the case in less developed countries where enforcement of copyright seems less of a priority for the police than in more developed nations.

Indeed in some countries the police might be part of the problem. Perhaps that may be a little extreme (perhaps not) but at the very least the police all the way up through the chain of command, may just be ignoring the issue of copyright infringement. In many cases this might not be through the lack of genuine concern so much as lack of resources. The more limited the resources, the more challenging the prioritisation decisions.

One needs only to walk around the streets in South East Asia to see the huge amounts of counterfeit DVDs, bags, clothes, telephones and so on all openly on display.

A private investigation agency can help locate the principal source of illegal activities, and those involved along the supply chain.

How a Private Investigation Agency Can Help

  • Discover the production source of the copyright items;
  • Find the seller/s of the copyright items;
  • Go undercover in order to find out and expose the various elements of the supply chain;
  • Retrieve valuable specimens of the stolen goods;
  • Do background checks of the perpetrators.

What Copyright Investigation Involves

  • Research of violations: Agents can help you in identifying intellectual asset theft as well as copyright fraud;
  • Identification of the perpetrators: One of the main steps with copyright investigations is to discover, locate, and also obtain essential background information and profiles of the perpetrators;
  • Surveillance at retail and manufacturing locations: Surveillance may also be used in order to get evidence of infringement and theft at source and along a supply chain.

Companies and individuals face challenging, and constantly evolving landscapes in intellectual property rights in any given country. Local private investigators are often best placed to assist in the constant battle against infringement of patents, copyrights, trademarks, and trade secrets.

In this expanding global marketplace companies are working in new territories and facing not just different administrative hurdles, uneven enforcement, and procedural barriers but also commercial obstacles from extremely sophisticated counterfeiters.

All About Copyrights

Protection by Copyrights

A copyright is a legal concept that grants original creators of work exclusive rights for the use and distribution. A copyright is considered intellectual property, such as patents and trademarks. It’s applicable to anything, including art, inventions, etc. There are no “international copyright laws”, every country has its own laws. America, for example, enforces all of the laws of all of the countries with copyright protection. There are exceptions to copyrights called “Fair Use Laws,” where you can use a small section of the poem, song, or other works, as long as you credit the author. This is especially true with teachers, who copy many worksheets off the computer and never really credit the websites, and never get in trouble for it.

A few months ago I saw this video on YouTube called “Ain’t Nobody Got Time for That.” A few weeks later I find this video called ” Ain’t Nobody Got Time for That REMIX.” It was the exact same video, but remixed into a song. I, at first, thought that it was a great idea. But as I kept browsing YouTube I kept seeing the same video remixed over and over again, with small variations of the original remix. Everyone was infringing copyrights left and right, and nobody was doing anything about it. YouTube can’t and won’t take down a video that popular, because it will be reposted, and it will have made more money if not removed. Lately on the internet people have been downloading YouTube videos into MP3 format files, to their computers. Since a lot of the YouTube videos are original music, this is 100% copyright infringement.

Imagine yourself, playing in front of thousands of people, living out your “rockstar dream,” making hundreds of thousands of dollars. Now imagine if only 10 people paid to get into the theater. You wouldn’t be making enough money to support yourself and your family. This is the same with music everywhere nowadays. According to the Times Online, the average teenager has over 800 illegally downloaded songs on his or her music player, accounting for nearly 50% of his music library. 96% of 18-to 24-year-olds illegally copy music either by downloading and uploading through the internet or sharing music via e-mail and burned CDs.

Not everybody takes it as lightly as most. In 2009, a woman in Minnesota showed that downloading 24 songs, costing $0.99 each, can lead to a fine of $1.9 million, or $80,000 per song! A normal penalty in the United States shows that sharing copyrighted music, or other material, can lead from a $150,000 to $250,000 fine or up to 5 year in jail. The effects of copyright infringement aren’t as light as everyone thinks. The RIAA asserts that piracy has cost the United States over $12 billion in total output, annually, as well as over 70,000 jobs lost!

The worst, and hardest to catch, kind of copyright infringement is online piracy. Online piracy is a term used to elucidate on the illegal copying of licensed and copyrighted materials from the Internet. In 2002, the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) reported that CD sales had fallen by 8.9 percent, from 882 million to 803 million unites: revenues fell 6.7 percent. The RIAA estimates that over 2.1 billion CDs were downloaded for free. Even though 2.6 times the total number of CDs were sold, profits fell by just 6.7 percent. Music piracy is bad for everyone, especially people trying to get new jobs in the music industry. Like Steve Jobs stated, “It is online piracy, not overt online music stores, that is our biggest competitor.” Music and movies aren’t the only things being pirated. There are over 15 million illegal downloads of just Minecraft-Mojang already downloaded from various sites. If everyone would have bought the game from the seller, they would have made 300 million dollars to keep updating the game. There is no reason to pirate, so don’t encourage it.