Many of us in the world of video production and video marketing jumped into our businesses without really understanding the legal ramifications of copyright infringement. And, even if we did have a brief conversation with an attorney, the world of copyright issues is fluid, and often very confusing.

In this post, we bring you some insight from a top attorney who specializes in the constantly changing areas of copyright, trademark, and intellectual property. Steve Hill, of Hill, Kertscher & Wharton, LLP, spoke at a recent meeting of the Atlanta Internet Video Marketing Association. This is the first in a series of posts focusing on his presentation and video/copyright issues. Steve says he constantly hears myths about copyright, and in the video excerpt below, he addresses two of these: you must register your work to protect it, and innocent infringement is OK.

Copyright Myth #1: You Must Register Your Work to Protect It

Let’s talk first about registering your work. Hill says that the only advantage of copyright registration is that IF you register the work before the infringement, you can collect statutory damages and attorney’s fees. But, he says your ownership of the work is still protected, even if you haven’t registered it.

The idea that you have to register every work that you create as a prerequisite to owning the rights of authorship and copyright in that work is completely false.

During the question and answer session of the meeting, which is not on the video, he advised a video producer to avoid registering every work because of the time and expense. He says statutory damages are limited anyway, and if you need to go to court, simply register the work first. He also advised that simply notifying the offender usually gets results, and if it doesn’t, notifying the web hosting company or YouTube will. Hill assured the group that companies like YouTube certainly don’t want to be liable for another person stealing your material.

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video copyright

Copyright Myth #2: Innocent Infringement is Not OK

In addressing the second myth that innocent infringement is ok, Hill says:

You don’t have to know that you were usurping someone else’s rights in order to be held strictly liable for copyright infringement.

Hill does go on to say that innocent infringement, while not a defense, certainly may lessen the punishment. “Innocent infringement can reduce the amount of damages that someone can recover against you”. Hill’s advice to video producers is to draft agreements so that if the client provides you with work that is copyrighted, you are protected. He says you should have a warranty or indemnity provision against intellectual property infringement that states if copyrighted material is provided to you by the client, the liability is their’s not yours.

During the presentation Hill discussed the history of copyright and assured video producers that although the web has changed the delivery of content, the courts are protecting creative producer’s rights time and again. Click the link below to view a brief video of Hill addressing these two copyright myths.

Now that you know you don’t have to register your work to protect your ownership and that innocent infringement is no excuse, stay tuned for more copyright protection advice.

In the next post, Steve Hill talks about who has the ownership of the work, you or your client and what you should know as the client or as the video producer.