This week, Smith & Hopen attorney Steven Forte appears as an expert guest on the Ecommerce BrainTrust Podcast. The BrainTrust Podcast is hosted by Forbes contributor and Founder of Bobsled Marketing, Kiri Masters. Episode 172 of the Podcast, which you can listen to below, addresses how Amazon sellers can protect their copyrighted materials from infringement.

Steven Forte Braintrust Podcast discussing Amazon Copyright Issues
Ecommerce Braintrust Podcast Episode 172

A copyright is a form of intellectual property protection that protects original works of authorship whether published or unpublished, such as literary, dramatic, musical, and artistic works. However, a copyright does not protect facts, ideas, systems, or methods of operation.

Once fixed in a tangible medium, an original work of authorship receives copyright protection. Such tangible medium could be pen and paper or writing something down in a Word processor. However, if you wish to sue someone for copyright infringement you will need to register your work with the U.S. Copyright Office.

To report copyright infringement to Amazon, rights holders can use the Report Infringement tool to report a complaint. It should be noted, however, that when you add your own copyrighted work (e.g., a photograph of your product) to your product detail page, you grant Amazon and its affiliates a non-exclusive right to exercise all rights of publicity over your copyrighted work. Specifically, other sellers (who list the exact same item) can list their “items for sale against pages that you created or added your copyrighted images to.”

How long does copyright protection last?

Generally, the term of copyright protection is the life of the author plus seventy years. In the event of a joint work of authorship, the seventy years begins at the death of the last author.

Do I need to register my work with the U.S. Copyright Office?

No, a copyright is formed from the moment an original work of authorship is fixed in a tangible medium. However, there are several important benefits of registering your work, including the ability to sue for copyright infringement.

How much does it cost to register a copyright?

Generally, registering a copyright with the U.S. Copyright Office costs between $45 – $65.