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  Who Owns the Copyright?

One of the major challenges facing your business today is the creation and maintenance of a Web site. But since copying material is so easy on the Internet, it's critical that you know how to protect the content on your site, along with other published work that your company produces.

A copyright prevents
others from: 

  • Reproducing a work in copies or sound recordings;
  • Creating spin-off or "derivative" material;
  • Distributing copies to the public by sale, rental, lease or transfer of ownership;
  • Performing literary, musical, dramatic and motion picture works, and
  • Displaying copyrighted pictures, graphics or sculptured works.
  • The answer lies in copyright safeguards. Copyright protection exists from the moment a work is created in any tangible medium. It only protects a specific expression of an idea.

    To be valid, a copyrighted work must have some minimal level of originality. In many cases, the author of a copyrighted work is not the owner so it's important for your company to secure its rights.

    Let's say you hire a freelancer to write a book about your company. If you don't have a contract stipulating that you own the copyright, the writer probably owns it. Just placing the copyright symbol on the book with your name is not enough.

    A work authored by your employees within the scope of their designated employment is called a "work made for hire". As such, the employer is the author of the work not the person who created it. This is also the case with contractually commissioned works.

    How long does a copyright last? The term is based on the identity of the owner. If the author is the owner, the duration of the copyright is 50 years after the author's death. In "work made for hire" situations, the term of the copyright is 75 years from the date of publication or 100 years from the date of creation.

    Copyright holders should place a copyright notice as follows YOUR NAME Year of Publication. For example, " Ajax Corp 2001. All Rights Reserved."

    What about putting material you find elsewhere on the Internet on your Web site? Don't make the mistake of thinking you can copy anything off the Web and use it for free. Even if you give credit to the author, you can still be infringing on the copyright if you don't have permission to use the work. Ronald J. Cappuccio, J.D., LL.M.(Tax) 1800 Chapel Avenue West Suite 128 Cherry Hill, NJ 08002 Phone:(856) 665-2121      Fax: (856) 665-9005 Email:
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