Legal Question in Intellectual Property in California

Copywrite Posters

35 years ago I produced local rock concerts and owned a night club in the Bay Area.My brother printed the posters that were done for each show(about 30).I used 3 different local artists.They were all paid.None of the the posters were copywitten.I have the originals that are now valuable.I would like to copywrite all of them with the Library of Congress.Please tell me how to proceed.

I live in San Mateo CA.


Andrew Bernstein

Asked on 10/15/07, 12:27 pm

3 Answers from Attorneys

Gordon Firemark Law Offices of Gordon P. Firemark

Re: Copywrite Posters

Mr. Williamson is not 100% accurate. These wouldn't be works-for-hire unless the artists were your EMPLOYEES at the time the works were created.

Also, there may be an issue of whether the works were published with proper copyright notice. If not, you may have problems.

You'll want to consult an experienced entertainment or IP attorney to do a careful analysis of the situation.

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Answered on 10/18/07, 11:57 am

Timothy J. Walton Internet Attorney

Re: Copywrite Posters

I don't think there is an absolute requirement that the artists be a company's employees for a court to find that the works were created as "works for hire." However, in the absence of a written contract, the issue becomes very muddy.

The way to proceed would be to file registrations with the US Copyright Office. Also, if it is possible to find the orginal artists, I don't think it is too late to secure their agreement that the works were "works for hire" and that copyright belongs to the owner of the nightclub.

Registering the copyrights is fairly straightforward and not really expensive. If you need help with the procedure for registering copyrights, my office is located in Palo Alto and I would be happy to help.

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Answered on 10/25/07, 12:00 pm
Charles Williamson Charles J. Williamson, Attorney At Law

Re: Copywrite Posters

As long as you paid for the creation of the posters by the artists, the copyright belongs to you under the legal doctrine of "work done for hire." It simply means that when someone does work that they are hired to do, the copyright belongs to the person/entity paying for the work. It would be good if you had a written contract to this effect but, if not, I still don't think you have much to worry about - unless one of the original three artists have become famous during the meantime.

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Answered on 10/15/07, 2:23 pm

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