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What should you do if your copyright is infringed?

Many artists or creators are eager to put the fruit of their talent out into the world. Unfortunately there are predators who disregard the legal rights of creators and use these creations for their own financial gain. 

What a copyright does

A copyright offers legal protection to the originator of the work. As the originator of a story, vacuum, song, painting or other creation you have the "exclusive and assignable" right to "copy" that material. However, no one else has that right unless you give them permission.

A copyright is granted by the federal government to protect your intellectual property rights. So, while your novel is automatically copyrighted the moment you finish it and sign your name to it, it does not stop someone from taking excerpts or the whole story line and copying it, without your permission and without attribution.  If a company or person does this they have not only plagiarized  they have also infringed on your copyright. See more about the 2006 young adult novel  written by a Harvard student where this occurred. 

 A constant threat

There are individuals and companies who are not afraid to copy a design or written work and use that design or work on their own product. This is done more often then we think. It is also done without the artist's permission or appropriate remuneration.

Many famous cases

When it comes to copyright infringement the cases abound. Some of the more recent and well known cases  are Apple vs Microsoft, James Dyson vs Hoover, Gucci vs Guess, A& M records vs Napster and the wildly publicized Star Wars vs Battlestar Gallactica. 

How to protect your work

A copyright protects artistic expression. But that idea must be expressed. If your novel is published and someone takes the story and changes a few details, this can be easily proved. If your novel is just a story idea that you've told to a lot of people, you are not protected. 

 You cannot copyright an idea

You cannot copyright something that is merely in the concept stage. You need to take it one step further. Draw up the design, detail on paper how that new computer program will function, or write down that story or screenplay. Create something tangible. If your work is something that you fear someone will copy without your permission, then copyright it. 

Take legal action

While you cannot prevent someone from copying you, you can create a viable legal record that will hold up in court and allow you to more readily and potentially successfully seek financial recourse. If your copyright has been violated, consult with an intellectual property attorney about what to do next. 

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