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Intellectual Property Law: The Law of Content


Content, such as music, text, graphics, illustrations, photographs, or software, may be protected under copyright law. There are two main concerns in this area: Avoid infringing copyrights owned by others, and protect one's own copyrights from unauthorized exploitation.

Copyright protection arises automatically when an "original" work of authorship is "fixed" in a tangible medium of expression.

If one uses copyrighted material owned by others without getting permission, the infringer can incur liability for hundreds of thousands of dollars in damages. Permission should be secured to use the work unless the proposed use is a "fair use" (which has a specific legal definition) or the work is in the public domain.

For example, Playboy sued a computer bulletin board for transmission of digitized images from Playboy magazine. The unauthorized uses were held to be an infringement. (Playboy Enterprises v. Frena).

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