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What can I do about copyright infringement?

As explained by the National Law Review, the purpose of copyright laws is to protect creators and their works. They also help boost competition among creators, which makes for a vibrant and thriving commercial environment.

When copyright infringement occurs, swift action can prevent monetary losses. Here are a few things to keep in mind about copyright laws.

How to tell if something is copyrightable

There are three elements that determine whether a piece is copyrightable. First, the work is available in some sort of physical form. Second, the work is original and independently created. However, similarities between your work and others is acceptable. Third, you must have expended some level of creative effort to produce the work.

Some works are ineligible for copyrighting. This includes things like ideas, procedures, plots, speeches given in public but not recorded, systems, and character types.

How to copyright a piece

Works created after January 1, 1978 receive an automatic copyright as soon as they are in a tangible form. However, you should also register the piece with the Copyright Office for added protection. If you plan on importing the item to other countries, you should also register it with the United States Customs and Border Protection. After registering, you have a legal standing to file suit for copyright infringement.

What to do if copyright infringement occurs

You must file a claim against the other party within three years of the infringement taking place. In this case, you may pursue three types of damages: damages caused by lost revenue, profits the infringing party earned while using your work, and statutory damages, which are a punishment for infringing on someone else’s work.

When defending infringement claims, the other party might claim the work was “fair use”, meaning permission is not necessary to use it in certain ways. They can also claim their use was a parody of the original work. However, the court will delve deep into these claims to determine whether they have merit.