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Copyright Gotcha by Google Search

By J. Nevin Shaffer, Jr.

I have been told that Google is now being used by copyright owners to find authors of publications that are making unauthorized use of their copyrighted materials. Presumably, the copyright owners send a demand letter threatening a lawsuit for copyright infringement and asking for substantial dollar damages to settle. Ouch!

Here’s what you need to know about copyrights:
 

  • Copyright protection attaches the instant an original work of art or authorship is reduced to a tangible form. No protection results from copying someone else’s work even if it is easy to do!
     
  • Unless, the original work is registered at the US copyright Office within three months of publication, the only damages that can be obtained are the owner’s actual damages for the infringement which are typically hard to prove and small.
     
  • Unauthorized copying of a registered copyright work entitles the owner to potentially substantial damages including court costs, attorney’s fees and statutory damages for willful infringement of up to $150,000.
     
  • Fair Use is the primary defense against copyright infringement. It is legal to cite other people’s work for many reasons such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research.
     
  • When authoring a work of your own, the best practice if you are using someone else’s work is to get their written permission up front!
     
  • The US Copyright Office website is loaded with information at: www.copyright.gov!
     

About the Author
Nevin is a licensed patent attorney and has been practicing Intellectual Property law for 25 years. You may contact Nevin at his Gulf Breeze office in the Harbourtown complex, Suite 43, or by phone or email at 850-934-4124 and nevin@jnevinshaffer.com. You can also get information about Nevin and his practice at his website at www.nevinshaffer.com. Nevin is a professional speaker as well. If your organization would like to have him speak about these topics, please contact him! Note: Nevin speaks in plain English and not in unintelligible lawyer gibberish!


© Copyright 2006 JNSJrPA. The material in this article is provided for general informational purposes only and should not be considered a legal opinion nor relied upon in lieu of specific legal advice. Accordingly, readers who require legal services in connection with their specific circumstances should consult an attorney competent in the field of intellectual property.









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