Copyright and business

When you run a business, you will encounter copyright in a variety of situations. The copyright work may be a product you produce directly, the result of work you do for a client, or your copyright work you pass on to your customers for further use. But you may also be using someone else’s copyrighted work on your website, and sometimes you may not even know that a particular photograph, text or other product is copyrighted and that you must always have the proper permission to use it.

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What all is a work of authorship

The Copyright Act defines the term “work of authorship” in its provisions as a literary work, another artistic work and a scientific work. Important conceptual features of a work of authorship are that it is a“unique result of creative activity” and that it is expressed in an“objectively perceptible form“. A computer program, database or photograph that is original in the sense that it is the author’s own intellectual creation is also considered a work under the law. It is therefore no longer necessary that they are unique, but it is sufficient that they are an original creation.

A work that meets the statutory requirements is automatically protected by copyright law whenever it is expressed in an objectively perceptible form. It is therefore not necessary to mark copyright works with the label “copyright” in order to protect them, as is sometimes mistakenly assumed; this label is nowadays only informative in the Czech Republic (and in most other countries).

Tip: Protect yourself and your clients and avoid the complications that a poorly drafted contract could bring. We’ll make sure that the creation and delivery of the work is legally free of any ambiguities, unreasonable risks and hidden pitfalls. We will prepare a bullet-proof contract for you within 3 days.

Use of another author’s work

The use of someone else’s copyright work can occur, for example, when you create a website to present your goods and services as a business. For such a presentation you will often need photographs, either depicting specific goods or just adding to the overall look of the site. Here it is important to make sure that all photographs are used legally.

Of course, you can take your own photos of your goods, but if you want to use another author’s photos, you will always need their permission to do so. This is typically obtained if you buy the photographs from the photographer at a price he or she sets. So if you get the photo from a photo agency or make a deal with a professional photographer, it’s all good. However, if you use photos on your website that you just downloaded from the internet somewhere, you may be unpleasantly surprised when you are contacted by the photographer asking for their immediate removal and financial compensation for their unauthorised use.

License Agreement

Do you need to draw up a licence agreement or just review the existing one? That’s what we’re here for. We’ll ensure a fair copyright setup for you, whether you’re a licensor or a licensee. We act quickly, at upfront prices. You can only pay after the service has been provided.

The need for the author’s consent also applies to all other possible uses of the copyright work. This may apply, for example, to the use of the copyright work or parts of it in an advertisement for your goods. The Copyright Act protects not only the finished work, but also its individual development stages and parts, including the title and the names of the characters, as long as they meet the above criteria for a work of authorship.

So, if you decide that your goods or services would sell better if you associated them with a well-known movie character or used a popular tune in an advertising spot, you should also contact the authors of those works. Again, you need their permission to use the work if you don’t want to risk unpleasant problems in the future.

Licence and licence agreement

You can also enter into a licence agreement with the author of the work for the purpose of using it. This agreement can be either exclusive or non-exclusive. If you enter into an exclusive agreement with the author, you become the only one who can dispose of the work, and the author may not provide the work to anyone else and may not dispose of it himself.

Tip: An exclusive license agreement should always be in writing and preferably drafted by an experienced attorney. We can draft a customized license agreement for you or review an existing document to protect your copyrights. We will make sure that the copyright is set up and treated fairly, without any ambiguities or kinks. We can handle this online, nationwide and normally within 3 days.

On the other hand, a non-exclusive licence does not have to be in writing and the author can grant it to more than one person and can also dispose of the work himself.

What if this happens to you

You may also find yourself on the other side of the barricade if, for example, a competitor starts using your photographs on their website without any guile. Or someone else starts offering your original concept for a service as their own.

In this case, the law gives you options to defend yourself. As an author , you can seek to have these cases removed, for example by withdrawing the unauthorised reproduction or imitation of the work or device, product or component from trade or other use, or even by destroying it. It is also important that you have the right to compensation for damages.

If the actual loss of profit cannot be determined, you may claim compensation as author or licensee for the amount of the remuneration that would have been customary for obtaining such a licence at the time of the unauthorised use of the work. The amount of the unjust enrichment suffered by the person who has made unauthorised use of the work without obtaining permission from you is double the remuneration that would have been normal at the time of the unauthorised use of the work.

These provisions of the Copyright Act can therefore be used to determine the amount you can claim from the other party in relation to the unauthorised use of your work. Should the person concerned fail to respond to a request not to use your work in the future and refuse to pay the amount of compensation requested, you may take your claim to court.

Tip: Starting a business and want to protect your new company? Or are you already an experienced entrepreneur and need to defend yourself against attacks from competitors? Protect the business you put a lot of energy into and register a trademark.

Protect your copyright

As we have already announced, copyright protection is automatic when a work is created, but we would still recommend that you register your work with a collecting society. These are legal entities authorised by the Ministry of Culture to carry out collective copyright management.

Specifically, these organisations are:

  • OSA – for authors of music and lyrics and music publishers,
  • OOA-S – for authors of works of visual art, architecture, photographers, authors of computer program images and television/film editors
  • DILIA – for authors of literary and music drama works and publishers,
  • INTERGRAM – for performers, producers of audiovisual and audio recordings,
  • GESTOR – for cases where you are dealing with the resale of an original work of art,
  • OAZA – for sound engineers.

Are you solving a similar problem?

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License Agreement

Do you need to draw up a licence agreement or just review the existing one? That’s what we’re here for. We’ll ensure a fair copyright setup for you, whether you’re a licensor or a licensee. We act quickly, at upfront prices. You can only pay after the service has been provided.

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Author of the article

JUDr. Ondřej Preuss, Ph.D.

Ondřej is the attorney who came up with the idea of providing legal services online. He's been earning his living through legal services for more than 10 years. He especially likes to help clients who may have given up hope in solving their legal issues at work, for example with real estate transfers or copyright licenses.

Education
  • Law, Ph.D, Pf UK in Prague
  • Law, L’université Nancy-II, Nancy
  • Law, Master’s degree (Mgr.), Pf UK in Prague
  • International Territorial Studies (Bc.), FSV UK in Prague

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