Copyright Law and Pheil Law Firm

PHEIL LAW FIRM offers legal services for its corporate and business clients from formation to dissolution, handling all of the various legal issues that a corporation can face over its existence.

According to the copyright laws of the United States, a person has a “common law” copyright to a creative expression once it has been expressed in a “fixed medium.” However, should a person require a copyright registration because he/she wishes to secure protection prior to marketing the song, transcript, computer software, or any other such creative expression, Pheil Law Firm will be able to complete the task. Whether your creative expression is a literary work, visual art, performing art, sound recording, web design, or anything in between, Pheil Law Firm offers expert copyright registration services.

Advantages of Copyright Registration: A registered copyright evidences the date of creation and places others on notice as to your rights to the creation. A copyright filed today will last the creator’s lifetime plus 70 years, of if a “work for hire,” the copyright lasts 95 years from publication or 120 years from creation, whichever is shorter.

What can be protected by copyright law?

A copyright protects you from having others reproduce your original work, whether or not it is published. It applies to all kinds of original expression, including the following: poetry, movies, plays, musicals, music, lyrics, dances, pantomimes, computer software, maps, architecture, art, sculpture, photography, video recordings of any kind, sound recordings of any kind, original works of any kind that appear on your website (see below), free software and freeware.

Even your favorite recipes can be copyrighted as long as they are part of a “literary expression” that includes directions and explanations, or when the recipes are compiled in a book

The key words are “original” and “expression.” An expression means a written, recorded or otherwise tangible representation of the idea. For instance, if a student stands in front of a class and gives a presentation off the top of his head, that is not copyrighted. But if that presentation is recorded in some way, that recording could be copyrighted. If a dancer performs before an audience, that is also not copyrighted. But the written notes, directions and choreography that went into producing that dance can be copyrighted, as well as any recording of that dance, including photographs.

We can obtain copyrights for computer programs, including computer software, web page designs, and screen displays, as well as submitting revisions to previously published materials.  Additionally, we can prepare copyright licensing contracts and can tailor a contract to your particular needs.

For those individuals in the creative field, United States copyright applications should be submitted at least every three (3) months in order to preserve rights to new creations. For instance, if a web page is updated with new graphics or text, it is advisable to submit a derivative work copyright application within three months of those updates. Without such filings, you will be deprived of your statutory rights. These rights include statutory damages (up to $150,000 for each intentional infringement of some types of copyrighted material) and attorneys’ fees. Most importantly, you must have a copyright registration in order to pursue a legal claim and such a registration shifts the burden to the opposing party for showing ownership of a disputed creation.

Maintain control of your work.

If you do not protect your creation with a registered copyright and someone else passes off the work as their own, the burden of proof falls on you to show you created the work or that you were the first person to create a work. The simplest way to protect your rights is to register your to the original expression, the rights to all copies of the expression, the rights to all derivative works based on the original work, the rights to all distribution of the copies, the rights to perform the work publicly (in the case of musical, dramatic, choreographic works, motion pictures and audiovisual works), and the rights to digital audio transmission (in the case of sound recordings).

In order to obtain the maximum benefits from the Copyright statute, you must file a copyright application prior to publication ( offering the work for sale, or by rental, or by lending it to the public) or within three (3) months of publication.

We can make it easy for you.

The attorneys at Pheil Law Firm will advise you as to the best methods for protecting your creative expression, review all materials and obtain all pertinent information prior to preparing and submitting your copyright application.

Once a copyright is obtained, we can assist in protecting your rights, as well as preparing agreements allowing others to use or market your expression.

A United States copyright does not automatically give you “international copyright” whereby your expression is protected throughout the world. There are many countries that offer protection to foreign works through international copyright treaties and conventions. Pheil Law Firm can provide you with invaluable advice in choosing the proper markets for your copyrighted works and getting you the most protection available throughout the world.


A trademark / service mark protects words, logos, phrases or the combination thereof which are specifically associated with goods or services.

There are federal, state and foreign trademarks. You may obtain a federal trademark if you are currently using or intend to use your mark in interstate or interlatta commerce (i.e. commerce that which congress may control). State trademarks are available in each state and are a good option if you do not intend to cross state lines with your business. Foreign marks are important if you intend to provide your goods or services in other countries. There are of course many countries and the rules in each one of those countries differ, however the use of the Community trademark (covers EU countries) or the Benelux mark (covers Belgium , the Netherlands , and Luxembourg) are both good ways to obtain a lot of coverage without having to file in each country.

Your mark, the brand name or design logo associated with your product or service, is the symbol of your hard work, the symbol of the quality of your product or service, the symbol of your skill. Your mark enhances the value of your product and service.

Specifically, a trademark is the brand name that appears on your product so that consumers can easily identify your product from those of your competitor. If you or your company offers services the brand is referred to as a service mark. You can also acquire rights to 1) A unique overall appearance of the interior layout and design style of a restaurant, 2) A unique, non-functional design of the packaging used for your product, 3) The unique color of your product if consumers associate that color only with your product, 4) and A unique sound that is used in used in connection with your product or service. You can register word marks, design marks (logos), slogans, or a combination of these elements. We can also assist you in registering collective trademarks and service marks, collective membership marks and certification marks.

Don’t wait until there’s a problem.

Pheil Law Firm recommends registering your mark as soon as you have chosen an appropriate brand name or design mark (logo). The process begins with a comprehensive screening search in various online databases, including the United States Patent and Trademark Office database, to make sure someone else hasn’t already applied for or registered the mark you wish to use and register.

While discovering that your mark is already in use is disappointing, it’s also a very good way to avoid a potentially expensive legal action. You don’t want to invest substantial sums and build a successful business and then learn that you have to change your brand name, your logo, or you slogan. Additionally, you don’t want the expense of defending an infringement action or paying out money to someone else because you are using a mark that is confusingly similar to his or her mark.


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