Copyright law for authors and creators was on the agenda at the February Zoom meeting of ASJA Pacific Northwest, with guest speaker Robert Parker, a lawyer with Holt Woods & Scisciani LLP in Portland.
Although he focused on U.S. law, Robert noted that the basics of copyright law are international, based on treaties signed by most countries in the world.
Copyright, an area of intellectual property law that also includes trademarks, patents, and trade secrets, protects creative and original works, he said, “anything that can be expressed.”
Creators automatically own copyright to their work, even in rough draft or unpublished form. While it isn’t necessary to include a copyright symbol or register the work, doing so serves to provide notice that the work is copyrighted. And in the U.S., in order to sue someone for copyright infringement, the work in question must first be registered, which is easy, inexpensive and can be done retroactively.
Robert also discussed work-for-hire arrangements, explained principles of fair use, and addressed issues and questions raised by ASJA members.
For more information on copyright, he referred writers to:
- a series of 76 circulars published by the U.S. Copyright Office, and
- Nolo.com, a provider of legal guides and professional services with free resources on intellectual property law.
Robert Parker is a member of the Oregon Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts, which offers, among other services, monthly legal clinics where those unable to afford a lawyer can consult with a lawyer for one hour on a specific issue for a small fee, currently $20. Similar organizations exist across the country and Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts in New York maintains a directory.
ASJA members attending the February meeting: Donna Albrecht, Maxine Cass, Tish Davidson, Fred Gebhart, Rosemary Keevil, Catherine Kolonko, Christina Leimer, M. Carolyn Miller, Joanna Nesbit, Randy Stapilus, Sharon Thompson, Darlene West, Minda Zetlin.