As an executive of a business in Chicago, a cornerstone of your success will be protecting the original source material that your company creates or purchases. If you’re not careful, copying published works without authorization can result in legal penalties and even financial ruin. To protect yourself and your business, understanding the nuances of copyrighted material is essential. In this article, we’ll explore the five most important points for Chicago executives to consider when dealing with copyrighted material.

It’s important to first note that copyrighted material is any content or expression that a creator has exclusive rights to sell, license, or reproduce. This material may be in the form of a book, song, movie, matrix of numbers, artistic work, website, software, etc. Given its legal implications, it’s critical to understand the regulations and laws that apply to copyrighted material and how they can affect your business activities.

1. Fair Use

The term “fair use” describes an exception to the exclusive rights given to a copyright holder. Under fair use, you may not need to seek permission or pay fees to make limited use of copyrighted material under certain circumstances. For instance, if you’re using copyrighted material for educational purposes like news reporting, research, criticism, or teaching, then you may be protected under fair use. The Office of the Register of Copyrights of the U.S. Copyright today, as well as the courts, considers the following four factors when determining if a use is fair:

The purpose and character of the use, including if the use is for commercial or nonprofit educational purposes;

The nature of the copyrighted work;

The amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole; and

The effect, if any, of the use upon the potential market or value of the copyrighted work.

If you’re unsure about any of these factors, it’s best practice to contact a copyright attorney for advice. Remember, if you’re not covered by fair use, then you may need to secure a license or permission from the original copyright holder.

2. Independent and Joint Copyrights

When dealing with copyrighted material, it’s important to be aware of two distinct categories of rights. These are independent and joint copyrights. Independent copyrights refer to material solely owned by a single copyright holder. If the material is created independently and not in a collaboration with others, then the copyright will remain with the original creator. In contrast, joint copyrights refer to materials that are created collaborating with other people, such as when a team of writers works on a book. The joint copyright holders will then have to come to an agreement regarding the rights and permissions associated with the work.

3. Copyright Infringement

A major concern for Chicago executives should be understanding and avoiding copyright infringement. Copyright infringement occurs when material is used without the authorization of the copyright holder. This infringement can occur in various forms, such as reproducing the material, performing the material, retransmitting the material, making a derivative work from the original material, distributing the material, and displaying the material. Many infringement cases are settled out of court, but some can result in civil and criminal penalties. Cases of willful infringement can result in higher damages and fines for the infringer.

4. Common Myths

It’s also important to be aware of the many misconceptions surrounding copyrighted material. For instance, you may have heard that using small amounts of copyrighted work is acceptable under the “fair use” clause. This is incorrect, as any amount of material being used can still constitute infringement. Furthermore, one of the most common misconceptions is that as long as you cite or credit the original author or source, then it’s not copyright infringement. Unfortunately, this is also incorrect, as citing or crediting the source has nothing to do with copyright law. When in doubt, it’s best to consult a copyright attorney to ensure that you’re in compliance with the law.

5. Statute of Limitations

Finally, keep in mind that a copyright owner has a limited amount of time to sue for infringement. This rule is referred to as the statute of limitations and for copyright infringement, the timeframe is three years. This means that the copyright holder has three years from the first date of infringement to file a lawsuit. However, if the copyright owner finds out about the infringement after the three years, then they are barred from suing.


Copyrighted Material,


Business Lawyers