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Intellectual Property FAQs from Entertainers

Nov 16, 2021 | Intellectual Property

Entertainers stand at the forefront of intellectual property issues. Each piece of art they create has the potential to be replicated, altered, or completely pirated if not properly protected.

Furthermore, many professionals in the entertainment industry are effectively serving as their own managers and legal counsel, meaning they are at increased risk of handling intellectual property issues inappropriately or incompletely. For these reasons, it is absolutely vital that entertainers be schooled on IP basics and know how to obtain the resources they need to protect their ideas and future earning potential.

Here are some of the most common questions entertainers have regarding intellectual property matters, paired with answers from the attorneys at Patterson Thuente IP.

What is a copyright?

A copyright is defined as the exclusive legal right given to an originator or an assignee to print, publish, perform, film, or record literary, artistic, or musical material, and to authorize others to do the same. This means that when entertainers copyright their work, they retain legal ownership of the work itself as well as the right to be paid licensing fees by other parties who they authorize to reproduce the work.

What is a trademark?

A trademark is slightly different from a copyright – a trademark is a symbol, word, or words legally registered or established by use as representing a company or product. Thus, a trademark pertains to the logos, company names, and slogans that represent a company or its products, not the work itself. For an entertainer’s purposes, trademarks could relate to the band name, logo, or catchphrase associated with the artist.

Is copyrighting my work necessary?

While there is legal precedent for establishing legal ownership rights in court without a formal copyright in place, copyrighting one’s material is always a prudent idea. This ensures firm legal standing for the entertainer regarding the date and format of the copyrighted work, which streamlines any legal proceedings that arise and strengthens the entertainer’s case.

What should I do before filing a trademark/copyright?

Conducting research about the availability of the material in question for copyrighting could save considerable time and headaches down the road. If the band name, for instance, is already in use, producing material under that name could result in legal challenges – even if the new producer was unaware of the standing copyright claim. An entertainer should initiate a comprehensive search to determine if the material they desire to trademark or copyright is already prominently featured elsewhere. A legal professional can assist with this search.

What do I do if someone violates my copyright?

Establishing a habit of addressing and responding to each infringement of your copyrights is advisable. This will deter an offender from committing repeat offenses, as well as publicly deter other potential offenders from taking part. Teaming up with a legal professional to monitor your copyrights and to investigate and catalog infringements is the best way to pursue this.

Should I sign the deal?

The entertainment industry is notorious for placing artists and creators in horrendous legal situations due to the nature of the contracts they unwittingly sign. If presented with any sort of contract, consult a legal professional and have them use their time-tested expertise in evaluating it. Ignore any urges of time sensitivity you may be receiving from the presenting party – these are likely red flags anyway. Any legitimate entertainment professional should understand and encourage your desire to seek counsel when entering into a contractual agreement.

As an entertainer, your intellectual property is your security for the financial longevity of your career. Make sure you are taking the proper steps to safeguard it.

Discover More IP Law Insights

Connect with experienced IP lawyers today to learn about protecting your intellectual property, as well as gain industry insights and professional recommendations. If you are embarking on a creative or business venture and need assistance or information, the attorneys at Patterson Thuente IP are here to help you navigate the process from start to finish. Our team of experienced attorneys stands ready to help you with your unique situation. Contact us today: https://www.ptslaw.com/contact/.

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