Many businesses in New York City need legal counsel for a variety of reasons, especially when it comes to copyright law. With the help of experienced business attorneys, companies can protect their innovative works from unauthorized use and benefit from the financial rewards. Here are some of the most frequently asked questions about local copyright laws in NYC.

What Are the Basics of Copyright Law in NYC?

Copyright law gives authors the exclusive right to reproduce, distribute, and make certain derivative works from their intellectual property. Copyright law covers all tangible works of art – such as books, music, sculptures, and photographs – as well as intangible works of “authorship,” including software programs, websites, and inventions. Governments grant these exclusive rights when the work is “fixed in any tangible medium of expression,” such as paper, 246 MB on a flash drive, or a website.

In NYC, copyright is governed by Title 17 of the United States Code. The law explains to New York companies the benefits of registering original works with the US Copyright Office and describes the remedies available to those who feel their ideas have been stolen without their permission.

What is the Best Way to Protect a Copyright?

The best way to protect a copyright is to register the work with the US Copyright Office, which grants protected works a license number, to ensure it is verified and protected. This license number allows authors and companies to prove their authorship of the work and claim copyright infringement if anyone steals their ideas.

In addition to registering the work with the US Copyright Office, businesses can use other strategies to defend their intellectual property. For instance, businesses should describe the copyrighted work in writing and sign the description; identify the work with a recognizable logo; place an appropriate copyright notice with the copyrighted work; and copyright their works early, as soon as the idea is developed, to benefit from the full length of the copyright.

Which Types of Works are Not Covered By Copyright Law?

Copyright law does not protect works that are not fixed into tangible mediums of expression. For example, common law copyright does not offer protection for ideas, although they can benefit from trade secret protections. Also, ideas, procedures, processes, systems, methods of operation, concepts, principles, and discoveries do not receive copyright protection. Furthermore, any work created by the US government or a foreign government is not subject to copyright.

Who Owns the Copyright to a Work?

In general, the person who creates the work is the copyright owner. For businesses, the creator can assign the copyright to another party, such as a partner or an employer, through a written contract. Additionally, businesses sometimes strike a work-for-hire agreement that allows the hiring company to own the work. However, this is only possible when the hiring company commissions the work to an independent contractor.


Copyright Law,

New York City,

Intellectual Property