Nov 10 2016

One more “C” for the Jewelry industry: Copyright

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The Jewelry industry has long been familiar with the cut, color and clarity "C's".  Another "C" that jewelers should know is Copyright.

Key points to consider regarding copyrights:

Copyright is a form of protection provided by law to authors of creative "original works of authorship".  Copyright gives its' owner the right to prevent others from unauthorized uses of their work and creates a bundle of exclusive rights for the author such as; the right to reproduce, display or perform, distribute, and prepare derivative works.

Registration and or publication of a copyright of the work is not necessary to obtain copyright protection but, these steps can "enhance" the authors' ability to sue and/or stop others from copying their work.

Registration is done through the Copyright Office and there must be a registration before you can sue. 

Publication is the distribution of a work to the public by sale or other transfer of ownership, or by rental, lease or lending.  The offering to distribute copies to a group of persons for the purposes of further distribution, or public display, constitutes publication.  At essence is necessary for a work to be considered published is it being made available to the public in an unrestricted manner. 

Publication from a copyright rights perspective is so important because it sets the date from which time begins to run for a timely registration but it also makes certain defenses by an infringer harder to raise among other things.

Publication is also important when applying for registration.  It determines how the work can be registered.  For example, generally when the work is unpublished it can be registered as a collection for one single filing fee, which can be cost beneficial for a jewelry designer that has more than one piece of jewlery they wish to protect.  There are some instances when publication has already occurred that the pieces can be registered together, requiring only one single filing fee.  However, there are also instance when various pieces may require independent registration.  Each case is different and each unique aspect must be taken into consideration.

A valid copyright registration for a jewelry design puts the owner in a much better position if he finds himself in a situation where the work is copied.  For example it can help shifting some of the burden-of-proof to the alleged infinger, which in the long run saves the owner of the copyright money in litigation costs and deters potential infingers.

As with cut, color and clarity, Copyright Law is not so straightforward. All designs aren't "cut" the same way, requiring different adjustments depending on the settings. A "tint" can be fanciful or undesirable depending on the circumstance. Regardless of the case, there are many "flaws" that only a trained eye can see.  Much of jewlery designers' time has been invested in learning about different materials, styles, patterns as well as adapting a technique to create such masterpieces that some important steps should be taken to protect those same jewelry designs.