Copyright law protects the intellectual property of creators such as artists, authors, and musicians. While copyright law is supposed to protect creators by preventing other people from using their intellectual property, there are many gray areas in the details that have to be decided in court. Copyright laws can also differ from area to area. This makes it important to find a copyright lawyer that understands local, national, and international precedent so you can protect your substantive works from infringement.
Many courts have upheld copyrights of finished and incomplete works as long as an individual or corporation can prove that they created the work before someone else. Some people accomplish this without hiring a copyright lawyer. They might, for instance, send a copy of a play to themselves in the mail so that it has an official date stamped on it. Or they might have a notary public sign and date a copy of the work so courts will know when the author created it.
This works in some cases, but those who are serious about protecting their intellectual property should consider hiring copyright lawyers. Copyright law is difficult for many laymen to understand. Even the U.S. court system finds it difficult to rule on some cases.
Since there are so many gray areas in copyright law, it is best to hire a copyright lawyer who has significant experience in the field. Most of the cases are brought to civil court, where a copyright lawyer might have the chance to argue your case in front of a judge or committee. In this type of situation, experience is a lawyer's best asset.
You can determine how much experience a copyright lawyer has by asking her or him how long they have been practicing intellectual property law. You should also ask the copyright lawyers how many of their cases they win so you will know how successful they are.
Consider spending some time looking for a copyright lawyer that has significant experience in your field. If you are a musician, then you should look for a copyright lawyer that has represented music companies and musicians. If you have written a book, then you should seek the services of a copyright lawyer that knows the ins and outs of copyright laws that apply to books. Finding a specialist can only improve your chances of protecting your rights.
After you have found several copyright lawyers with years of experience, a concentration in law that pertains to your field, and a good track record, you can make a short list to choose from. Contact the copyright lawyers on your short list and ask them to give you references. These references will make it easy for you to talk to their other clients. You can often get the best information from other professionals who have used the copyright lawyer's services. A good reference from a professional music producer, for instance, should typically have more influence on your decision than a part-time musician with self-published material.