Los Angeles businesses, big and small, often grapple with questions about copyright law. Any time an individual or organization creates original works -- a photograph, a song or a brand’s logo, for example -- they should consider whether copyright protection is necessary and how to secure it. It’s also important to understand how copyright law can affect you as a consumer. Here, we’ve addressed some of the frequently asked questions about copyright law in Los Angeles, so that business owners and consumers alike can gain an understanding of the local laws.

What is Copyright Law?

Copyright law is a type of intellectual property law that protects original works, like literature, photographs and songs. Copyright protection generally lasts for the creator’s lifetime plus an additional 70 years.

The fair use of these materials, such as for criticism, commentary, news reporting, teaching and research, is allowed without the permission of the copyright holder because it furthers creativity and the exchange of ideas, thus promoting democracy and society’s development. As a result, copyrighted materials can be used in such contexts as long as you are not charging for them and giving credit.

Who is Subject to Copyright Law in Los Angeles?

Any company, individual or organization located in Los Angeles or producing creative works in Los Angeles is subject to copyright law. That includes educational institutions, corporations, startups and nonprofits, as well as engineers, architects, interior designers, photographers, performers, authors, musicians, visual artists, filmmakers, songwriters and other creative professionals.

What Types of Original Work are Covered by Copyright Law?

Original works of authorship are protected by copyright law, including audio and visual materials. Specifically, that includes literary works, musical works, dramatic works, pantomimes and choreographic works, pictorial, graphic and sculptural works, sound recordings, motion pictures and other audiovisual works, architectural works, and compilations.

What are the Benefits of Registering for Copyright Protection?

Registering a work with the Copyright Office gives the copyright owner certain advantages, such as the ability to sue for damages in federal court. Although it is not required to protect your copyright, registering your work makes it easier to prove ownership during legal proceedings. It also allows copyright owners to collect statutory damages, legal fees, and costs associated with bringing a lawsuit.

In addition to official copyright registration, potential protectors often seek out other resources, such as registering their copyrighted works with the Library of Congress, to prevent any inconsistencies between copyright ownership.

What are the Legal Recourse for Copyright Violations?

When a person or organization violates copyright law, legal action may be brought against them. That can include injunctions (a court order that requires the defendant to take certain actions or refrain from taking certain actions) or a monetary compensation award (damages).

In civil cases based on copyright infringement, the outcome is most often determined by a jury. In some cases, a court can assign a statutory damages amount in lieu of actual damages. In either instance, having a registered copyright can help you obtain a larger award and a greater chance of success.

Where Can I Find Experienced Business Attorneys in Los Angeles?

Navigating the complex laws of copyright can be overwhelming. Fortunately, UpCounsel is here to help with our extensive network of experienced business lawyers in Los Angeles. Our attorneys have an average of 14 years’ experience and are available for both one-time consults and ongoing legal support. Plus, the profiles of our online attorneys showcase their client ratings and reviews of recent work, giving you the confidence that you’ve chosen the right attorney for the job.


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