Roger Miener <Roger.Miener@...>

Ned Carey writes ...

So Roger, if something was published without the copyright notice
before '78 it went into the public domain. Did the changes that
were made in '78 give the rights for those items back to the owner,
or did those things remain in the public domain.
Ned, with those questions we are now moving beyond my area of
professional expertise. I am a lawyer, but my interest in
intellectual property law is personal and not professional. What I
can do is recommend a tour of the web site maintained by the U. S.
Copyright Office at

Once there, and if you poke around a bit, you will see that Tony and I
should have been talking about the year 1976 instead of 1978. The
major change to the law during the 1970's occurred with the passage of
the "Copyright Act of 1976, Public Law No. 94-553, 90 Statute 2541
(for the general revision of copyright law, title 17 of the *United
States Code*, and for other purposes), October 19, 1976. OK, hey, we
were close as to the date.

Should you need guidance in this area, you should contact an attorney
who specializes in this area of the law. Typically such attorneys are
also admitted to the patent bar and authorized to practice before the
U. S. Patent Office. As such, they are easy to find in the yellow
pages of the phone directory.

Prior to Ned Carey's post, Garth Groff related an unhappy experience
regards an attempt to deal with what he saw as an infringement of his
registered work. Garth concluded with ...

Copyright law is nice to have as a deterrence, but for the little
guy it has no teeth.
Garth, I don't know when this incident occurred but please go to the
web site mentioned above and go to the FAQ. There, indexed as FAQ No.
14, you will find the following ...

"Why should I register my work if copyright protection is automatic?
Registration is recommended for a number of reasons. Many choose to
register their works because they wish to have the facts of their
copyright on the public record and have a certificate of registration.
Registered works may be eligible for statutory damages and attorney's
fees in successful litigation. Finally, if registration occurs within
five years of publication, it is considered prima facie evidence in a
court of law. See Circular 1, section Copyright Registration and
Circular 38b on non-U.S. works."

Please note the mention of ability to recover statutory damages and
attorney's fees. These matters are treated in Sections 504 and 505 of
the copyright law. You can read these sections at the web site. Once
one has proved infringement, statutory damages may be awarded in lieu
of the copyright owner having to prove actual damages. Statutory
damages can be as high as $150,000.00.

Garth also stated ....

.... The copyright lawyer I consulted said
legally I had a good case, but any judge would be really pissed at
me for wasting his time with such a petty matter....
Garth, in thirty years of practice I have come to know many federal
district court judges. It is true that they exhibit a rainbow of
personalities, however, none of them come even remotely close to being
the sort of person described above. The words "pissed", "wasting" and
"petty", as they appear in the above context, strongly suggest to me
that the next time this problem comes up for you, you would be well
served to consider consulting a different lawyer.

Roger Miener
at Tacoma WA

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