Home » Copyright Law » What Does Copyright Infringement Mean? 

Copyright protection is given to companies and individuals seeking to protect their work from being transmitted, used or reproduced without their consent. Their work often includes novels, music, cinema, graphics and architectural work. This means if another person or a company wants to use the work, they must obtain permission from the one who holds the copyright.

What Does it Mean to Infringe on a Copyright?

Copyright infringement happens when a person or company copies work without obtaining the permission of the party who owns it. The party is called a copyright holder. A person or company can also get into legal trouble if they copy an “expression” of the work without permission. The term “expression” means that the information or idea wasn’t protected. However, how the idea was used, or expressed, was protected. For instance, a movie wasn’t remade. However, the character used in that movie was used in a commercial without permission.

Copyright infringement would even occur if the person or company didn’t exactly copy the protected work. For instance, a songwriter didn’t use the exact melody of a copyrighted song created by a Dallas band. However, they made their song have a similar melody. The band could hire Dallas copyright attorneys to sue the songwriter.

What Rights Does a Copyright Owner Have?

When a person or company obtains a copyright for their work, they have many rights. For instance, they have the right to reproduce the work. No one else. They have the right to modify the work. Another right they have is to distribute the work the way they want.
Other rights include the right to show the work in public and/or perform the work such as a song in public. They also have the right to negotiate the use, lease or purchase of the work. This means they can let another person use the work or buy it without infringing on the copyright.

Three Rights a Copyright Holder Doesn’t Have

A copyright holder doesn’t have the right to prohibit fair use. Fair use is the doctrine allowing copyrighted material to be used for a limited reason such as for a review, to teach or literary criticism. A copyright also lasts for a specific number of years. Once the copyright has expired, anyone can use the work. Work that is considered non-copyrightable is also not protected. One example of non-copyrightable work is an idea. Ideas aren’t protected by any copyright law.

Protecting Work from Being Copied or Used

The best way to protect work from being used without permission is to have it registered with the U.S. Copyright Office. This provides the best form of legal protection. That way if the work is used, the person has legal recourse. They may not have legal recourse until they have registered the work with the government. However, it is important to speak with an attorney to determine the best course of legal action if work was used that wasn’t registered with the government.

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