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There are two types of copyright lawyers: ones who focus on the application process and others who focus on infringement issues.

Copyright lawyers specializing in the application process can help file the necessary forms and advise on any other steps you should take.

Copyright lawyers with an emphasis on infringement will represent you when someone else is using your idea or material without your permission, especially for financial gain. A lawyer that specializes in copyright law can also defend you if you're accused of infringement.
If you're considering filing for a copyright for a new idea, you may want to involve a copyright lawyer because you want it filed quickly and legally, without the stress of doubting whether you're using the right process.

Also, if you believe someone has illegally used a copyrighted idea of yours and you want to file a lawsuit, a lawyer can guide you through the process.

Some common copyright infringements that you may encounter:
  • Illegally downloaded music, shows, or movies
  • Plagiarizing your words
  • Scanning a copyrighted picture and reproducing it for profit without permission
If you're unclear about copyright laws, you might want to consult with a copyright attorney to preempt any possible legal issues.
Not all lawyers use the same methods of billing their clients, but many copyright lawyers charge an hourly rate to represent you either through paperwork or in court. If you have a strong case, an attorney may take you on a contingency basis, meaning you will not have to pay anything up front but your lawyer will take a percentage if you win your case. The risk here is that your lawyer won't be paid for their time, so this will likely only happen if you have a good chance of winning. Establish rates and billing methods up front with your attorney so that you know what you're getting into.
If you're filing for a copyright, you can expect that your idea or material will be protected from others using it as their own or for profit for the duration of your life, plus an additional 70 years.

If you're trying to combat infringement, there are a few possible outcomes. If it is proven that someone unlawfully used your work, you'll either be compensated, the infringing work will be destroyed, or both. However, the case may go the other way, in which case you'll receive nothing.

In any case, a copyright lawyer knows the way around the laws and court procedures, so it's a smart idea to involve them in the process of filing for a copyright or filing a lawsuit.

This article contains general legal information and does not contain legal advice. Rocket Lawyer is not a law firm or a substitute for an attorney or law firm. The law is complex and changes often. For legal advice, please ask a lawyer.

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