What Is So Important About Copyright?
Copyright is a form of protection granted by the United States government under Title 17 of the US Code to the “authors” of original works of artistic expression. Many other nations, including Mexico and Canada, either have similar laws or uphold international agreements with the United States regarding copyright. The law grants the author of the work the exclusive right to make copies of that work and prevents others from unfairly profiting by making or selling unauthorized copies. The law allows for designs to be registered with the Library of Congress and provides for legal fees, costs and monetary damages to be collected in United States Federal Court from unscrupulous businesses that to not abide by those laws.
Copyright law does not protect an idea, only the specific expression in a fixed form. In the jewelry casting industry each jewelry item begins with a design and an original master pattern. The original pattern is the “expression in a fixed form” and is protected under copyright law. In the case of the angel wings in question, TierraCast, Inc. does not claim the sole right to sell angel wings made in metal and plated silver or gold, but it most certainly does claim protection against unauthorized duplication of its property, the original specific angel wing pattern, by others.
Unauthorized duplication and sale of that part is, essentially, theft. TierraCast, Inc. the original designer and manufacturer of the part, not only receives no money from the unauthorized sales, but also loses the opportunity to sell its legitimate product in the marketplace at a competitive price. While the manufacturers of the counterfeit parts stand to profit most, retail outlets that resell the counterfeit product can also be considered to be selling “stolen goods”. The United States Customs Service helps uphold copyright law in cases where goods are imported into the United States and has the power to inspect and/or seize items that infringe on US copyrights.
America’s best business product is innovation – the ability to constantly develop and introduce new inventions, designs and consumer products for us all to enjoy. Copyright laws help protect the development process behind the innovation by making sure that businesses who have not invested the time and money to develop new products don’t simply steal a product from others and sell it as their own.