A copyright attorney is a lawyer who specializes in cases involving copyright and intellectual property law. Copyright law determines the ownership of creative output such as written works, music and motion pictures. In cases of copyright infringement, when an individual's intellectual property is used without permission, a copyright attorney can help prove original ownership and any monetary damages that might occur because of unauthorized use.
Copyright attorneys also can help those who create these works to acquire an official copyright. According to copyright law, anyone who creates a copyrightable work, such as a book, song or poem, owns copyright without any necessary formal paperwork or recordkeeping. This is known as a common law right to the work. If an artist chooses to file for a formal copyright, a copyright attorney can assist with this process. The copyright attorney also can maintain records to help prove a claim to any creative material.
Though a copyright registration is not necessary to protect intellectual property rights to any given work, it does create a paper trail that can be used to prove ownership. It also can prove the dates that a work was created to show whether an infringement truly occurred after the original work was created. A copyright attorney uses these details as well as any other evidence regarding the creator's claim to the work to prove the work's ownership. In some cases, a copyright registration can help a copyright attorney secure larger damages in cases of infringement.
Other considerations of intellectual copyright law must be considered for works such as computer programs, audiovisual presentations or dramatic works such as plays. Assistance from a copyright attorney can help the creator ensure that all appropriate measures have been taken to prove and protect ownership of the work. Other difficulties might arise with works that can be easily distributed through electronic means. Unauthorized distribution of a creative work can also lead to income loss and require help from a copyright attorney, even if the original ownership of the work is not in dispute.
With continually changing technological considerations and different interpretations of intellectual copyright law, a copyright attorney can be helpful in ensuring the security of any creative work. The international distribution of creative work generally requires even more complex attention in order to maintain protection of ownership. Many copyright attorneys are well-versed in international copyright law and can help in these situations when disputes arise or when additional official ownership claims become necessary.