The Copyright Act contains all of the laws that apply to creative, “expressive” works, like music, photography, books, screenplays, and films.
If someone copies your creative work, whether the “infringing work” be identical or “substantially similar”, you may have a claim for copyright infringement. However, you will generally need to do no less than three (3) things before you can pursue your claim:
(1) Register your work with the United States Copyright Office (unfortunately, registration with the Writer’s Guild of America will not suffice). You can do this electronically by submitting your application via the United States Copyright Office website.
(2) Figure out how the person accessed your creative work product because, unless the copy is virtually identical, you will be required to show “access” (meaning you will need to prove how the infringer was able to gain access to your work). Generally, just saying it was on your public website is not enough (unless you can track visitors and show a connection).
(3) The third thing you will need is a comparison, done by a reputable “expert”, explaining the qualitative and quantitative similarities between the two works. This will often be coordinated by an attorney who is familiar with copyright infringement.
Finally, the United States Copyright Office has recently enacted a small claims procedure for controversies that involve less than $30,000 in damages (which also requires that all parties agree to submit their controversy to the Copyright Office for resolution). Unless you and the other side agree to submit to this process, and unless the amount at issue is less than $30,000, you will probably have to hire an attorney to assist you in filing a copyright infringement case. It is too difficult to navigate federal court proceedings without an attorney, and all copyright Infringement cases must be filed in federal court.
Is it worth suing? If the infringing work was successful, you have a good idea of how the potential defendant accessed your work, and the infringing work copied a significant part of your work, it is probably worth suing for copyright Infringement.
An experienced copyright attorney at Lowe & Associates can enforce the copyright to your work. Contact us today for a consultation.
* Lowe & Associates (“The Firm”) is an entertainment and business law firm located in Beverly Hills, California. The firm has extensive experience handling cases involving copyright infringement, having provided top-quality legal services to its clients since 1991. The Firm is recognized for its many achievements, including successfully litigating many high-profile cases.
Find us at our website at www.LoweLaw.com.