What does a Copyright Lawyer do?

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  • Written By: Jessica F. Black
  • Edited By: Allegra J. Lingo
  • Last Modified Date: 26 November 2019
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A copyright lawyer works to enforce copyright laws in order to guard the creative products of his or her clients from various violations. The primary areas that he or she specializes in are issues with public domain, copyright ownership, patents and trademarks, and copyright infringement. This type of law is among the most difficult due to the constant flow of material, international treaties, and internal conflicts among clients. Technical writing and the ability to convey complex technical ideas are other valuable traits.

There are many different types of cases that a copyright lawyers encounter in their field. Copyright ownership problems are based on parties disputing original ownership, transfer of ownership, or ownership recognition. Patents and trademarks also require protection due to frequent dispute over their origin. Public domain material, items not under copyright protection, is often debated in court by researchers and authors, and there can also be confusion if material can be considered public domain. Patents and trademarks also require protection due to frequent dispute over their origin.

Copyright infringement usually carries criminal penalties. Many cases cite intellectual property theft, which is the use, reproduction, or plagiarism of copyrighted works. A copyright lawyer typically defends plaintiffs or defendants in copyright cases depending on his or her litigation expertise.


It is important for a copyright lawyer to have current knowledge of copyright issues and law. The constant introduction of new technology increases the scope of the copyright lawyer's job, and he or she should be familiar with all laws that pertain to the continuously evolving field of digital intellectual property. International treaties are also constantly changing as agreements are made with new countries and updated legal resources are available. There are refresher courses and workshops that can aid a copyright lawyer with continuing education and increasing his or her knowledge of modern legal guidelines.

A bachelor's degree, preferably in pre-law studies, is required before being admitted into law school. Most law schools offer courses and programs in copyright law, which is usually recommended given the extensive details of this legal area. A copyright lawyer must receive the minimum degree of Juris Doctorate (J.D.) in order to practice law and there are additional degrees available that specialize in intellectual property law and copyright law. Technical backgrounds are usually preferred, and most companies seek employees who have experience in copyright research and who are extremely familiar with all aspects of intellectual property.


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