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Do I own a copyright?

Copyright infringement is a complicated matter, governed by a very specific set of laws. If you believe that some party or another may be infringing on your creative work, you should consider consulting with an experienced intellectual property attorney. Before you can move forward with an infringement case, you must establish that you properly hold the copyright in the first place, which may be more complex than you think.

In very broad strokes, if you created some piece of work, then you own the copyright to that work. However, there are number of circumstances where copyright ownership may spread to more than one party.

For instance, if you created some piece of work under the direction of some other party that hired you, then the hiring party may in fact own that work. This is known as a work for hire, and can include many types of work. Similarly, if you sell the rights to some piece of work, then you may forfeit the rights to that work, at least for a period of time.

Furthermore, unless you properly register your work with the U.S. copyright office, there are fairly low limits on the damages you can collect in an infringement case.

Each case of copyright infringement is different, so it is always wise to consult with an experienced attorney who can help you navigate this complicated legal area. If you believe that your work suffers from copyright infringement, then you deserve to explore all of your options for fair compensation. Don't wait to seek out the help you need to protect your rights and the work you cherish.

Source: Findlaw, "Copyright Enforcement FAQs," accessed June 30, 2017

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