Many people might understandably consider California the home of the computer software and hardware industries. Over the past few decades, Silicon Valley has launched an innumerable number of companies, ventures and technologies. This explosion of products onto the world market has brought with it the need to protect these products from being copied illegally.
Many people in California have at a minimum viewed a video on YouTube at least once. It is almost impossible to avoid having a video on the platform show up in a web browser search in some situations. The service offers companies and individuals a place to house and share their content. YouTube has also produced its own set of celebrities and an entirely new form of entertainment. Along the way, it has been plagued with problems related to copyrights and the protection of these rights on such a dynamic medium.
People in California may be aware that copyrights are the legal way of protection an artistic work from being used or promoted by someone other than the creator. However, there are many complexities when it comes to the ownership of a piece or body of work, especially in the music industry. The road from writing a song to having it played on the radio can be long and winding and involves multiple parties, including record labels.
California-based DC Comics has been publishing comic books and graphic novels featuring the character Wonder Woman for over 70 years. In the interest of protecting its intellectual property, the company has issued a cease-and-desist order against a New York-based bookstore that commissioned comic book cover art that depicts one of the state's congresswomen in the role. The order also applies to the rival comic book company that published comics featuring the controversial cover art.
Writing fan fiction is a popular hobby in California and most other areas of the country. While many writers create fan stories for personal enjoyment, there are others who choose to publish their work online. Some even attempt to charge money for their stories. What many people may not realize is that most fan fiction violates copyright protections, even if it is not sold for profit.
For years, Netflix has built up its reputation as a purveyor of streaming entertainment. While most of its customers in California and around the country consume its content online, Netflix still has ties to its roots as a DVD-by-mail company, and some 2.7 million customers around the country still consume its media that way to this day.
Ordinarily, if you create an original work of authorship in California and fix it in a tangible medium of expression, you automatically hold the copyright to it. That copyright is yours unless you transfer it to someone else. Otherwise, even when you die, your estate will retain the ownership of it for many years thereafter. However, there is one notable exception to this rule. If someone hires you to create a work of authorship for business purposes, it may be a work for hire, which means that the entity for whom you created the work holds the copyright, not you.
As a California resident who has the rights to a certain copyrighted work, you may have obtained the copyright in an attempt to prevent others from using your work without your explicit permission. If someone does decide to reference or otherwise use your copyrighted work without first securing permission, whether he or she is behaving unlawfully in doing so depends on whether the action constituted “fair use.” At Peterson Watts Law Group, LLP, we understand that the fair use doctrine allows people to reference your work in limited circumstances, and we have helped many people determine whether someone’s use of their copyrighted work fell within these fair use parameters.
At Peterson Watts Law Group, LLP, in California, we represent many creative people whose mission in life is to create works of art such as paintings, musical compositions, books, photographs, computer programs, or any number of other artistic work types. These works represent the intellectual property of their respective creators, and as such, need to be copyright protected from the infringement of and by others.
Intellectual property is not something that is important only to large corporations. There are many small businesses and even individuals in California and elsewhere who hold copyrights or other forms of intellectual property for their creations and work. These people and entities may sometimes feel they have a limited ability to actually benefit from these protections, however.