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Resources

Digital Millennium Copyright Act
A PDF version of the entire act.

World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO)
The nearest thing to a unitary body where you can register certain kinds of IP so as to have protection in law in most of the world. It also has an arbitration service for domain name disputes.

Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA)
Agreement establishing international standards on intellectual property rights enforcement. (One must not expect too much from such ‘global’ organisations, which essentially in the final resort rely upon the goodwill and disposition of individual national  governments for their effectiveness and value)

Copyright.gov
US Copyright Office. Information resource about Copyright Law. MISSION: “To promote creativity by administering and sustaining an effective national copyright system.”

Copyright in USA and in Europe generally subsists as inherent in a newly-created original work automatically upon the work’s creation.  It is not always a registered right; although in some instances it may be registrable as well as subsisting inherently in a work. The US copyright office accepts registrations for Copyright.  Also you need to look at local variations in protection, especially within individual states of the USA.

It is important not to assume that because a work is not registered as a copyrighted work, that there is no barrier to you taking it for your own use.

It remains true to say however that where a created work is not registered, and it is in use in a location where registration is available, the protection it bears in law in that place commonly is not as full as registration would make it.

Normally copyright also similarly subsists automatically in the ownership of the work’s creator(s): although in US and in EU law there is a concept of ‘works for hire’ which modifies this default position.

‘Works for hire’ are those created by employees in the normal course of their employment; and for these works copyright subsists automatically in the ownership of the Employer(s).

It is important also to be aware of licensing and other consensual agreements between business entities.  These allow, usually for a premium, people and companies to use works protected by rights owned by others.

Licenses are normally provided by the rights’ owner(s) and can be exclusive or non-exclusive permissions to use.  There will be a finely constructed agreement drawn up and legally binding; detailing very specifically what can and cannot be done with the rights’ concerned, together with a period of  license.

An Exclusive license gives use of works ONLY to the single licensee (possibly also as well as the owner) whereas a non-exclusive license leaves open to the rights’ owner the opportunity to make further licensing deals for the same works and with other agencies.

It is important then to be well-assured in one’s mind that a) the work you are citing as being infringed is really an infringed protected work (see for instance ‘open source’ below) and (b) if you are assured it is protected that a license or other consensual deal is not in place for it to be used in the instance you are concerned with, and (c) that the work you are concerned with has not been assigned (sold) to a new owner.  If you are concerned your ownership information may be out of date this can be checked out at the Intellectual Property office where the right was registered as assigned.  (Many assignees will make sure a public record of the legal documents of assignment are available for public inspection at these places. Indeed some legislations demand such a record be kept)  Lastly (d) that the terms of any license or assignment or agreement you might be seeking to discount in fact do actually apply ONLY to a geographical or other segregation or category that is NOT pertinent to your present concern.

You should remember that there is always a term on copyright.  Copyright always expires in time.  The durations of the different copyright protections for different types of created works are very various; so if you’re unsure, do your homework carefully.

You may go to the USPTO and the US Copyright Office websites and to the EU Europa website whereabouts you can look up the various terms of duration of protection for all the different kinds of IP rights, including copyrights.

There are other states of  subsistence, even for newly-created original works.  For instance, a work may be designated as OPEN SOURCE by its creators/owners.

Open Source works are normally permitted for use by all-comers with certain provisos and conditions of licensing to which a user must agree, usually in order to get access to the work to be used by him/her.

Another state of subsistence for works is sometimes offered by larger international companies who select, usually, legacy copyrights and other IP rights, which pertain in certain works they hold, and in acts of largesse offer the works for general public usage.

Another state of subsistence is called ORPHAN WORKS, which are copyrighted works whose IP owners are untraceable.  Normally these Orphan Works are subject to royalties or other payments upon their use with permissions to use granted by a collecting society who holds the payments made to it as a pool.  Commonly musical and photographic works are those most susceptible to orphan-hood.

There are further states of subsistence for works in regard to IP rights and permissions, but these above are the chief ones.

Registration of Copyright
Information from the the U.S. Copyright Office.

US Patent and Trademark Office
The Federal agency for granting U.S. patents and registering trademarks – MISSION: “promote the progress of science and the useful arts by securing for limited times to inventors the exclusive right to their respective discoveries.”

Trademark IP, or  Trade Mark IP,  as the Europeans often write it, is a registrable right in Europe and in USA.  Like copyrights trademarks usually have an inherent degree of unregistered protection in law; but unlike copyrights, such an unregistered right is most usually a weak right in comparison with its registered brother.  An unregistered trademark right not uncommonly is superseded and even quashed by a rival and conflicting registered right, regardless whether the date of first use of the unregistered mark was prior.

Trademarks are logos, words, images, stylisations, and combinations of these.  There are a very few musical and other sensual registered trademarks (smells, even ambiences).

There are global frameworks whereupon trademark protection through registration is available.  There is in Europe the EU Single Market Trademark Office (which goes under the short name of OHIM or OAMI).  At OAMI trademarks are granted protection by a single registration Europe-wide.

There is also a set-up called The Madrid Protocol, and signatory nations to this arrangement are diverse and worldwide; although far from pervasive.  A ‘Madrid’ ‘acceptance’ of a Trademark will provide legal protection to it in those nations the applicant has nominated and which also have accepted his/her trademark.  The Madrid Protocol  protection service is administered by WIPO (see above).

These diverse international registration protections of trademarks are supported by a battery of  enforcement enactments under governmental authorities.  This means that in many nations there is in place recourse for trademark rights’ holders whose property has been infringed.

Since the Internet is an international and at the same time a supra-national maverick in respect of policing and law enforcement; the DMCA Solutions initiative has set out to draw upon the resources of  discrete legislatures in individual nations.   According to the physical location of  your online infringer, DMCA Solutions makes readily available actual trademark and copyright protection and a viable route of redress.  DMCA Solutions offers you effective restraints for commercial crime.

Chilling Effects Clearinghouse
“Collects and analyzes legal complaints about online activity, helping Internet users know their rights and understand the law.” It is a unique collaboration among law school clinics and the Electronic Frontier Foundation. A great resource concerning Copyright and DMCA issues.

The Copyright Website
A copyright portal for real world, practical copyright information.

10 big myths about copyright explained” – Brad Templeton
Great information resource concerning frequently asked questions.

DOMAINS
Uniform Domain-Name Dispute-Resolution Policy (UDRP)
Process established by ICANN for the resolution of disputes regarding registration of domain names.

ACPA – Anticybersquatting Consumer Protection Act
A US Federal law protecting trademarks from cybersquatters.

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