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How To Handle Copyright Clients – A Comprehensive Guide

This article is drafted in such a way that its reader, i.e. a supposed attorney doing IP practice or the employee who’s in-charge of copyrights in a boutique IP firm, would be taken through the general and commonly applicable procedure for tackling almost all the major inquiries or grievances of his or her copyright clients. This write-up gives a fair outline and guides your about what exactly you should do if your client asks for copyright

Taking Your Client Into Consideration

Now the first thing that any attorney must take into consideration is that the client approaching him is not a legal professional or is not an individual who would always be well-versed with the statutory framework surrounding his area of profession.

Therefore, any attorney giving his or her legal opinion, advice or perspective to their respective client, must take into consideration the fact that they must keep their explanation super simplified and boil down and portray complex legal jargon and jurisprudentially evolved terminologies into simplistic terms which a layman can easily understand.

As their attorney it would be your foremost job to convince your clients about the simplicity of each and every part of the copyrighting process and you’ve to walk them through each part very patiently and in a comprehensive manner. Opting this general manner is is the best option to do so, irrespective of your clients specific demands, since it will help your clients to understand the most optimum methodology for the evaluation of their rights and this in turn would ultimately help them to make a better decision in the long run.

Analyzing Their Request – What Exactly Does The Client Want?

Let it be settled at the outset that an attorney should not be shaken by their clients demands. You should encourage your clients to talk more and get them to narrow down their exact demand or rather expectation from the IP registration or copyright litigation which they wish to pursue. Secondly, you’ve to be wary about what your client wants but in doing so, do not get overly defensive about securing your company and lessening its liability in a scenario wherein things go south.

Due to a fierce competition, copyright attorney’s mostly focus on how they or their firm would in no way be responsible for their client’s loss in a litigation or registration. Yes, legal safety of your enterprise is of the utmost importance but sometimes keeping it on a paramount pedestal can lead to further problems and also chase you away from the chance of achieving an adequate level of client satisfaction. This is because you may drive the client into becoming more tactile by mentioning how you’re not ready to take responsibility of his job in so many ways. 

What Should Be The Goal For Your Advice?

The mantra for your professional advice is, stop, look and listen. The first step would be to not start with legal advice but to stop and letting your client speak. Once you’ve the facts straight with you, you’ve to look for all the legal or litigative probabilities. Lastly, depending on what you’ve to listened, you should give an objective and comprehensive advice to your client. Put yourself in the impartial chair of that of an adjudicator while giving such advice.   

In addition to the aforesaid mantra, one must also probe into the actual purpose of the client and question his intention behind acquiring the given copyright ownership. Then research regarding the infringement and see if it is going over the legal or jurisprudentially laid down bounds and if yes, kindly give an advice accordingly. Formulate your response based on your research and stand by it wholeheartedly. If one hesitates or remains shaky while giving an advice, then an attorney would not inspire confidence in his services from his own clients. 

Giving advice to your clients is essentially an attempt at problem solving. It is a strategic tackle with their legal problems in their copyright registration. But do not make the mistake of making this a single-minded task. It is rather a collaborative job or a team effort at finding the best possible solution for the client’s problem. This collaboration is between your client’s ability of explaining the factual matrix and your own ability of deciphering it and safeguarding your client’s stance with legal cover. 

Many a times, it may happen that clients do not know about the statutory boundaries of copyright act or provisions of different provisions of other relevant statutes. It may even be that what your client wants to be copyrighted in his name, could already be barred and statutorily excluded from copyright protection by the copyright act itself. Therefore, you’ve to essentially educated your clients in their own matter.

In case of a copyright, any attorney worth his price, should first think and advice about these things. First, look whether the content or object that the client wishes to copyright fits appropriately to the qualifying criteria prescribed and mandated by the statute. 

Now if this prerequisite is sufficiently satisfied, then you move on to the next and actual job of registration of the said copyrightable material. During this as a copyright attorney, you’ve to manage all the Intellectual Property of your client for that given material. You’ve to make sure that they’ve all the documentation and it is properly filled out. Also, you need to tell them about a realistic timeline for the execution of their wishes as is prescribed by the statute or even by the contemporary scenario or trends in the copyright office. 

Copyright clients don’t always come to get their stuff registered. Rather some would come seeking your advice for the extension of the existing copyrights. You’ve to make sure that they’ve satisfied all the prerequisites for the said extension.

Sometimes they want to assign, license or sell their copyright altogether to a third party. This new entity is a stranger to the deals between you and your clients. Therefore, make sure to do your proper and extensive due diligence on their prior history and financials. Though a thorough background check may feel like an unnecessary burden, it can be really helpful in such situations to have a fair knowhow of the entity that you’re dealing with. 

Charging The Clients – Is There A Set Standard

As regards to this field, the market rates don’t matter if you offer quality service of experienced practitioners. But one must look at the big picture and take into consideration the fact that if you charge exorbitant amounts of money, then you’re narrowing down your possible customer base. It is quite clear that not everybody would be willing to shell out big bucks and unless you’ve an already established marketable image which would make your company a strong contender to demand that kind of monetary compensation for your services, nobody is going to settle for your services.

This might sound to be arbitrary but that is mainly because pricing generally tends to depend upon a variety of different factors. You need to have a detailed market research in order to reveal the industry standard for fixing your own rates. Your charges should be in addition to the processing fees of a standard copyright registration. This is because of the fact that, you’re providing personalized and custom-tailored legal advice, and are utilizing your own talent and skill for the same.

Once all of this is factored in together, you can come up with an adequate ‘copyright transfer of ownership’ or ‘registration’ or ‘extension’ advice fees. Now you’re equipped to move forward with copyright registration, transfers or extension, according to your clients personal wish. 

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Aayushi Chopra
Aayushi Chopra
Aayushi Chopra is a law student who is interested in creating content on education, lifestyle, law, health, and environment. She enjoys researching different topics and then expressing her views on them.

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