Laws of Copyright

Laws of Copyright


A suit for copyright infringement must be brought in federal court. In general, you have three years from the most recent infringement to sue. Your copyright must be registered with the U.S. Copyright Office before you can sue anyone for infringement.

A defendant in a copyright action can claim that he or she created the work independently, or that any copying consisted of sections which are not copyrightable, such as facts or news. In addition, a defendant can claim he or she is making "fair use" of the work, which includes criticism, comment, parody, news, research and scholarship. In determining fair use, the court examines a variety of factors, including whether the use was for profit, how much was copied and the economic effect of the use.

Since 1989, a copyright symbol (C) has not been required in order to protect a copyright. However, it does put people on notice that your work is copyrighted and weakens any defense of "innocent infringement." A person may use the (C) symbol even without registering the work with the U.S. Copyright Office.

In addition, the U.S. has copyright relations with more than 100 countries throughout the world. As a result, a U.S. copyright is recognized and honored in most industrialized nations.