Copyrighting one’s intellectual property is a necessary step to protect his/her/its works. However, the first step is always determining whether the work can be copyrighted, as mere ideas, which are not expressed, generally cannot be protected.
Copyright protects ‘original works of authorship’ that are fixed in a tangible form of expression. The fixation need not be directly perceptible so long as it may be communicated with the aid of a machine or device. Copyrightable works include the following categories:
musical works, including any accompanying words;
dramatic works, including any accompanying music;
pantomimes and choreographic works;
pictorial, graphic, and sculptural works;
motion pictures and other audio-visual works;
sound recordings; and
As one can see, the breadth of works that can be protected by Copyright are extremely varied and only require that the work “be fixed in a tangible form of expression.” This means that a work, whether it exists on printed paper, a CDDVDBlu-ray, or as a purely digital file on a computer, can be copyrighted. This means that a company’s website, promotional literature on a new firearm, videos of its products, and even postings on social networking sites are copyrightable.
Copyrighting one’s work allows for the copyright owner, pursuant to Section 106 of The Copyright Act of 1976, to have the exclusive right to or authorize others to:
Reproduce the work in copies or phonorecords;
Prepare derivative works based upon the work;
Distribute copies or phonorecords of the work to the public by sale or other transfer of ownership, or by rental, lease, or lending;
Perform the work publicly, in the case of literary, musical, dramatic, and choreographic works, pantomimes, and motion pictures and other audio- visual works;
Display the work publicly, in the case of literary, musical, dramatic, and choreographic works, pantomimes, and pictorial, graphic, or sculptural works, including the individual images of a motion picture or other audio-visual work; and
Perform the work publicly (in the case of ‘sound recordings’) by means of a digital audio transmission.
Any of these actions taken by another party, who is not the rightsholder or authorized by them, is committing copyright infringement, which is actionable under The Copyright Act of 1976 and for which actual damages, special damages, and attorney’s fees can be sought from infringers. However, you or your business must have filed a copyright registration to be entitled to some of these damages.
Failure to register for a copyright can leave a rightsholder in a perilous situation if there is a need for litigation. A copyright registration is required to file any copyright infringement action. Registering a copyright for a pending legal action requires an expedited filing, which can be extremely expensive. Furthermore, if an item is not copyrighted and more than three months have passed since publication, you will be statutorily barred from seeking any type of special damages and attorney fees in a legal action against an infringing party.
Registering for a copyright can be a confusing process for those unfamiliar with the process. You are required to not just submit an application, but also to send in the mandatory deposits as required by the Library of Congress. FICG offers members of the Firearms Industry the ability to easily register their copyrights, submit mandatory deposits, and store the copyright certificates at our facility. We obtain the needed information and materials from you and complete the application and submit the mandatory deposits for you. With our experience in representing the Firearms Industry and our understanding of the unique issues that the Industry faces, we take the hassle and confusion out of registering a copyright, while being able to advise our clients on Industry specific issues that they might otherwise overlook and which other firms are not prepared to consider or handle.
Beyond this, we also help ensure that our clients respect the Intellectual Property of other companies, both in and out of the Firearms Industry, and do not expose themselves to liability, even for innocent acts (since the Copyright Act of 1976 does not protect oneself from liability based on one’s best intentions).
Our firm is also dedicated to the defense and protection of the Second Amendment of the United States Constitution and Article 1, Section 21 of the Pennsylvania Constitution, which is not something that can be said for copyright firms in New York, Washington, D.C., Chicago, or Los Angeles.