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Investing your time and talent into your creative project or invention requires a lot of work. To protect your intellectual property from being used unlawfully, you may need the help of a copyright lawyer.
Read on to find out what a copyright lawyer does and what to expect from their services. Plus, explore where to get free copyright lawyer quotes and helpful legal document templates.
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What does a copyright lawyer do?
A copyright or Intellectual Property (IP) lawyer works under the umbrella of intellectual property law, which encompasses multiple facets of IP protection such as trademarks, designs, patents and copyright.
Copyright lawyers give advice on how to protect your content, defend your material from unlawful use and resolve copyright disputes in or out of court. They can also help you commercialise your works by drafting licensing agreements. Put simply, they protect your right to profit from your work.
Copyright law protects creators that produce artistic works such as:
- Novels, articles, poems, plays, song lyrics and scripts
- Paintings, sculptures, photographs and choreography
- Film and video
- Music, songs and sound recordings.
When you should use a copyright lawyer
A copyright lawyer typically protects your work from plagiarism and unlawful use. You might consider a copyright lawyer if you feel your work has been plagiarised, used without permission or profited from unlawfully. Alternatively, if someone is wrongfully accusing you of copyright infringement you can hire a copyright lawyer to defend you against litigation.
Copyright lawyers can also draft commercial agreements if you are legally allowing a third party to use your work for payment.
Copyright lawyer vs Patent and trademark lawyers
It is important to note that copyright law only protects bodies of work such as books, songs or artwork. It does not protect ideas, names, titles, words or phrases. For these branches of IP protection, you'll need advice from a patent or trademark attorney.
In Australia, copyright lawyers typically protect non-commercial artistic works whereas trademark and patent attorneys help you protect income-earning creations.
A trademark or patent attorney will:
- Register trademarks
- Apply for patents
- Secure design rights
- Enforce trademark rights.
Meanwhile, copyright lawyers provide creators with control over how they use and profit from their work. Their main duties are:
- Resolving disputes over copyright ownership
- Defending clients who are wrongfully accused of copyright violations
- Defending copyrights that have been unlawfully used, plagiarised or profited from
- Filing lawsuits against copyright infringers.
It is important to get the right legal advice from the appropriate professional to protect your work.
What services do copyright lawyers offer?
A copyright lawyer's services usually include:
- Drafting legal documents such as letters of demand and cease and desist notices.
- Filing lawsuits against infringers for punishment and financial compensation.
- Guiding you through mediation or settling copyright disputes outside of court.
- Guiding you through preliminary court proceedings.
- Drafting commercial agreements to allow others to access, use and reproduce your works for payment.
Other IP matters such as trade secrets, ideas, designs and trademarks require different legal advice. Your copyright lawyer may also work in these areas or you may need another IP lawyer that can advise accordingly.
How effective is a copyright lawyer?
A copyright lawyer will help you make informed decisions by giving you expert advice on copyright protection, infringement and commercialisation.
It is a good idea to consult a lawyer before taking any action on copyright violations. If you cannot properly substantiate your infringement claim it can be termed a "groundless threat" and potentially leave you open to counter-suing.
A copyright lawyer will help you understand your rights, what solutions are available to you, the cost of proceeding and likelihood of success.
Do I need a lawyer for copyright issues in Australia?
Copyright issues can be convoluted to navigate, but there are some measures you can take before hiring a copyright lawyer.
Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) is an umbrella term that covers multiple solutions to a copyright dispute. Processes such as mediation, arbitration and expert determination generally take place before a dispute goes to court. These methods can be more flexible and less costly than pursuing legal action.
If the dispute cannot be resolved outside of court, then hiring a copyright lawyer may be a smart move to ensure the best possible result if you pursue legal action.
Alternatively, if you are being sued for copyright infringement, getting a lawyer before you respond to any contact is likely to be a good idea – not least if it is a large business suing.
How do I find copyright documents online?
There are many places on Finder that you can find information on copyright-related documents, such as:
Alternatively, there are sites that have libraries of legal documents for download and customisation in the table below.
Here's some more information on where to find free copyright lawyer quotes and online legal resources:
- Lawpath: Get a free legal document upon sign up. The essentials plan gives you access to more than 300 legal documents and unlimited revisions and edits. Membership costs $24 per month (billed monthly). Or save by choosing an annual plan.
- Wonder.Legal: Choose from 158 documents created by legal experts. No monthly fees, just pay per document you download.
- Sprintlaw: Get free fixed-price quotes, access to lawyers, a legal document library and more. With Sprintlaw, you can pay an annual fee of $799 and enjoy 15% off fixed quote services with an annual membership.
- Net Lawman: Gain access to hundreds of templates and optional review service by a legal team.
- LegalVision. By signing up for a membership, you'll get unlimited downloads and unlimited calls with LegalVision's lawyers for $199 per month (billed monthly), for 12 months. Alternatively, you can pay per document without membership.
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