When Do I Need a Copyright Lawyer?

Why do people Google “copyright attorney Houston?” What is copyright, anyway? When you seek to publish & monetize any kind of creative work, there are steps that every creator must follow to stop their work from being stolen, misappropriated, or the revenues you want from it diverted. 

When you create a creative work, be it a piece of writing, a publication, a video, an audio recording, or a movie, the moment it’s published, you are automatically assigned what’s known as “copyright” under common law. Copyright is the right to ownership, use, and licensing of a creative work. 

If copyright laws didn’t exist, there would be unrest and conflicts between creative artists fighting for each other’s rights.

Can you claim copyright without registering?

No. You may also ask, what is registration? To answer that, let’s put it in perspective: You can’t just expect your work to be 100% protected by copyright the moment you publish it. In order to legally prove ownership of your work, the next step is to register it with the U.S. Copyright Office.

However, registering copyright incorrectly could result in issues later on down the line. In order to protect your work, you must take ownership by every means possible. Not everyone knows everything about copyright upfront. And besides, if you’re an entrepreneur, can you say you have all the time in the world to go through the laws yourself?

This is where it is time to seek the advice of a copyright lawyer.

What do copyright lawyers do?

Copyright lawyers assist businesses & artists in registering and protecting their copyrighted works. These attorneys secure the most iron-clad terms & agreements possible for their clients to succeed perpetually in profiting from, utilizing, and licensing their copyrighted work.

The services of copyright lawyers include the following:

  • Facilitate copyright registration
  • Establishing a public record of copyright claims
  • Provide advice on what exactly constitutes an infringement (or violation) of your copyright
  • Protect you from infringement by enforcing your copyright 
  • Ensure you are not infringing on others’ copyrights by researching competitors & similar works in detail
  • Being your partner in litigation – be it in infringement, licensing disputes, or royalty disputes

What is a cease and desist letter?

A cease and desist letter is a formal claim that you are infringing on another’s copyright. If you receive one of these letters, don’t wait. Call an experienced copyright attorney right away. You don’t want to get in a legal tangle yourself; without knowing and understanding the law, you will inevitably be in a losing position when it’s time to defend yourself in court.

What is a work for hire?

A “work for hire” is a unique case. If a business or person commissions someone to create a copyright work for them, it is automatically considered a “work for hire,” and the copyright ownership is assigned to that business or person who commissioned the work. Those rights don’t rest with the person who was paid to do it.

When an employee or contractor is asked to sign a work-for-hire agreement for the first time, they may not know what they’re getting into; nor do they stop and think about it. The moment you are presented with a work-for-hire agreement, you must contact a copyright attorney. This is the best way to learn about your rights to “work for hire.” It can apply to many different things – whether it be an idea, concept, thing, or piece of music commissioned by a company; a piece of art; or computer code (which is especially true of software companies.)

Contact a Copyright Lawyer

There are many different legal situations concerning copyright. They’re not limited to the situations above. Whether or not it’s listed here, when you face any such situation, we highly recommend having a talk with a copyright attorney. They will navigate you through the complexities of copyright law, and help you set up a strong foundation to protect your works. One larger investment upfront will save you from many potential risks & pitfalls in the future.