A Deep Dive into Arizona’s Intellectual Property Laws
Mesa’s Skilled IP Lawyers Share Detailed Insights Into The Complexities Of The Intellectual Property Laws
Intellectual property law can be hard for most people to understand. You may unintentionally violate intellectual property law without even knowing it, which can leave you vulnerable to penalty. Or, you may be the one who has created something that another has taken or used without permission. This is an especially common problem for bloggers, artists who share their work online, those who create videos, and so on.
If you find yourself in an intellectual property dispute, you should contact an experienced Arizona business attorney as soon as possible. Here’s what you need to know about intellectual property law:
Copyright is what helps to protect many types of intellectual property. When a work is protected by copyright, it cannot be copied, it cannot be used as the basis for a new work, and it cannot be distributed, sold, or lent without the permission of the copyright owner.
If you write a blog, you immediately copyright it when you publish it (technically, the copyright exists even before that, when the work is created). Copyright protection is afforded the moment a work is “created and fixed in a tangible form that is perceptible either directly or with the aid of a machine or device,” according to the U.S. Copyright Office. That’s what happens when you publish a blog or a graphic or video. You don’t need to apply for copyright protection to have it. And if you see someone’s work published online, know that it is automatically protected by copyright.
Creating for Hire
You may not have copyright to your work if you created it while working for someone else. You may have written a blog or created art for someone who has commissioned an order for you to do so, or you may create something within the scope of your overall employment. Under these scenarios, the person who is paying you usually would own the copyright.
You may be able to show this work you created in a personal portfolio, but you will not be able to publish it on your own site or elsewhere. Know that the employer or the person who hired you can sue you for copyright infringement if you try to use the work.
Allowing Use of Your Work
There may be times that you want to allow someone to use all or part of your work. The easiest way to do this is to provide a Creative Commons license for the work. You see these commonly on stock photos that people make available for others to use without payment or attribution. You can also provide them on your work.
You can put contingencies on the Creative Commons license. For example, you can say that it’s not for commercial use or for profit. Of course, you can also grant specific permission for some people to use your work in specific ways, without using a Creative Commons license.
Using Someone Else’s Work
There are a lot of reasons why you might want to use someone’s work other than just taking it and trying to pass it off as your own. You may have the very best of intentions, such as simply sharing the work, using it for inspiration, or making commentary on the work. However, there are strict laws about how works can be used, and if you aren’t sure, you should talk to an Arizona business attorney first.
The law allows for “fair use” of copyrighted works. Some of the factors it considers include:
- The type and purpose of the use. Was the work used for commercial, for-profit purposes? Or was it used for informational or artistic purposes?
- The type of copyrighted work. You are more likely to be able to use a scholarly or factual work than you are to be able to use an artistic one. You are also more likely to be able to use published works rather than unpublished ones.
- The amount of the work that was used. Using one line from a book is much different than using whole chapters. How much of the work you are using will be a factor in deciding whether it was fair use.
- The effect on the market. If the way you use a copyrighted work could impact the way it is received in the market, that would likely not be considered fair use.
If your use of a copyrighted work does not qualify as fair use, there may be other reasons you can use it. Notably, you can create a parody or satire of a copyrighted work to either poke fun at the subject or to make commentary on it.
Using Someone Else’s Ideas or Facts
Ideas are not copyrightable. Therefore, you can use someone else’s idea, so long as you create a substantially different work from it.
Facts are also not copyrightable. However, you need to be careful how you share the facts. You need to present the facts in your own words, rather than copying the way they are written or structured in another work. Professional considerations and etiquette also suggest that you attribute the source of your facts, though you likely won’t be in legal trouble if you don’t.
Getting Legal Advice and Help
Intellectual property law can be tricky. If you aren’t sure if the way you are using a work is allowed, you should contact an Arizona business attorney for guidance. If you have discovered that someone else is using your work without permission, a business attorney can also help you understand your rights and options.
Contact Denton Peterson Dunn in Arizona today if you need counsel about an intellectual property issue. Our experienced business attorneys represent clients on both sides of the issue in the Mesa, Scottsdale, and Phoenix areas. We can represent you in litigation or negotiation, and we can help you protect your rights. Call us today to schedule a consultation with a business attorney and learn more.