Back to Basics: Copyright Law

This is one in a series of posts covering some basic aspects of intellectual property law.  Previous posts touch on patents (parts 1 and 2) and trademarks (parts 3 and 4).  This post will cover the general elements of copyright law. 

Copyright law protects the expression of an idea fixed in a tangible medium.  Thus, the protection is more limited than other aspects of intellectual property law.  However, if copyright infringement is found, relief to the copyright owner can include an order against further infringement as well as money damages which can range from between $200 and $300,000 per act of infringement.  Damages may also include attorneys’ fees and costs.  Infringers may also be subject to criminal prosecution and may be imprisoned if found guilty.

Types of works covered by copyright law include:

  •   literary;           
  • musical;
  •  dramatic;
  • pantomimes and choreographic works;
  • pictorial, graphic, and sculptural works;
  • audiovisual works;
  • sound recordings;
  • derivative works;
  • compilations; and
  • architectural works.

In order to proceed with a copyright infringement action, you must register your work with the United States Copyright Office.  This can be done online on their website

Copyright notice is given by using “©” followed by the year or years in which the work was published and the owner.  In addition, a statement such as “all rights reserved” or “no unauthorized use permitted” may follow the notice.  This puts the public on notice of your intent to enforce your rights via copyright law.

Protecting your innovative developments is critical to any organization.  Having the right person to help you make that decision is important.  The Law Office of Kathleen Lynch PLLC is designed to help businesses such as yours keep ahead of the game.   The first telephone consultation is free.  Email us at