February 7, 2024

“Copy, Paste, Infringe!” – Harness IP’s Bryan Wheelock and Joel Samuels Clear Up Copyright Misconceptions in the St. Louis Bar Journal

In an article published recently by the St. Louis Bar Journal, Harness IP Principals Bryan Wheelock and Joel Samuels clarify when the use of publicly available content may constitute infringement and outline the potential ramifications for commercial users.

Wheelock and Samuels caution that the absence of a copyright notice does not mean the content is not protected. Copyright is automatic, and under the Federal Copyright Act, notice is optional.

Even when content is used broadly without consequences, as popular meme images often are, owners still have the option to enforce their rights if they so choose – and they are more likely to do that in situations involving commercial use than with violations for personal use. Similarly, copyright protection may still apply to public information in certain circumstances.

The authors also caution that “past actions, like the Ghost of Christmas Past, can haunt you.” While the statute of limitations for copyright infringement is three years, that period of time begins when the infringement is discovered, not when it occurred. As a result, copyright infringement actions may begin well past three years after the actual violation.

To help protect copyright, Wheelock and Samuels advise that owners add a copyright notice and other copyright management information to every copy of their work, promptly register their copyright claims, and bring claims for infringement within three years of discovery.

The St. Louis Bar Journal is a publication of The Bar Association of Metropolitan St. Louis (BAMSL), an organization that empowers area lawyers and other legal professionals through community service, social networking, and education.

The complete article may be viewed on BAMSL’s website.



Harness IP is celebrating more than 100 years as an intellectual property law firm. Founded in 1921, the firm currently holds a No. 2 ranking from IAM Media for providing counsel to 44 companies with the largest portfolios of issued U.S. patents. The firm also ranks No. 6 for filing the most patent applications on behalf of those companies. Harness IP’s attorneys and IP professionals focus exclusively on patents, trademarks, global IP management, litigation and other IP rights. The firm has offices in metropolitan Dallas, Detroit, St. Louis, and Washington, D.C. Visit www.harnessip.com for more information.