A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
copyright
A legal device that provides the owner the right to control how a creative work is used. A copyright is comprised of a number of exclusive rights, including the right to make copies, authorize others to make copies, make derivative works, sell and market the work and perform the work. Any one of these rights can be sold separately through transfers of copyright ownership.
copyright notice
The © symbol, plus the date of publication and the author's name. For works published in the U.S. after March 1, 1989, no copyright notice is required for copyright protection within the U.S. or any country that has signed the Berne Convention or GATT. A notice is still useful to remind others that the work is copyrighted, to steer a would-be user in the right direction to obtain permission to use the copyrighted material and to preclude a defense of "I didn't know it was copyrighted" if someone uses the copyrighted material without permission.
Copyright Office
A branch of the U.S. Library of Congress that oversees the implementation of the federal copyright laws, including issuing regulations and processing applications for the registration of copyrights.
copyright owner
Under the Copyright Act of 1976, a term with two meanings. First, it refers to the person or entity listed as the owner in the U.S. Copyright Office, usually the original author or developer. Second, it refers to a person or entity to which an exclusive part of the copyright has been transferred in writing. For instance, if Harry writes and copyrights a book, then sells the right to prepare a screenplay based on the book to a movie studio, both he and the studio are copyright owners.
copyright registration
Act required by the U.S. Copyright Office before a court action may be brought to prevent infringement. Copyright protection automatically attaches to any work of authorship as soon as it is fixed in a tangible medium of expression. Registration also confers strategic benefits in an infringement action, including a presumption that the registered owner is the rightful owner, as well as the ability to collect damages that often make the difference between an owner being able to afford litigation and having to forego his or her rights.
corporate resolution
A written document that describes an action taken by the board of directors of a corporation. For example, when a corporation issues a stock dividend, the declaration of the dividend is a corporate resolution.
corporation
A legal structure authorized by state law that allows a business to organize as a separate legal entity from its owners. A nonprofit is often referred to as an "artificial legal person," meaning that, like an individual, it can enter into contracts, sue and be sued and do the many other things necessary to carry on a business. One advantage of incorporating is that a corporation's owners (shareholders) are legally shielded from personal liability for the corporation's liabilities and debts (unpaid taxes are often an exception). In theory, a corporation can be organized either for profit-making or nonprofit purposes. Most profit-making corporations are known as C corporations and are taxed separately from their owners, but those organized under subchapter S of the Internal Revenue Code are pass-through tax entities, meaning that all profits are federally taxed on the personal income tax returns of their owners.
corpus delecti
Latin for the "body of the crime." Used to describe physical evidence, such as the corpse of a murder victim or the charred frame of a torched building.
cosigner
A person who signs his or her name to a loan agreement, lease or credit application. If the primary debtor does not pay, the cosigner is fully responsible for the loan or debt. Many people use cosigners to qualify for a loan or credit card. Landlords may require a cosigner when renting to a student or someone with a poor credit history.
cost basis
See basis.
counterclaim
A defendant's court papers that seek to reverse the thrust of the lawsuit by claiming that it was the plaintiff -- not the defendant -- who committed legal wrongs, and that as a result it is the defendant who is entitled to money damages or other relief. Usually filed as part of the defendant's answer -- which also denies plaintiff's claims -- a counterclaim is commonly but not always based on the same events that form the basis of the plaintiff's complaint. For example, a defendant in an auto accident lawsuit might file a counterclaim alleging that it was really the plaintiff who caused the accident. In some states, the counterclaim has been replaced by a similar legal pleading called a cross-complaint. In other states and in federal court, where counterclaims are still used, a defendant must file any counterclaim that stems from the same events covered by the plaintiff's complaint or forever lose the right to do so. In still other states where counterclaims are used, they are not mandatory, meaning a defendant is free to raise a claim that it was really the plaintiff who was at fault either in a counterclaim or later as part of a separate lawsuit.
counteroffer
The rejection of an offer to buy or sell that simultaneously makes a different offer, changing the terms in some way. For example, if a buyer offers $5000 for a used car, and the seller replies that he wants $5500, the seller has rejected the buyer's offer of $5000 and made a counteroffer to sell at $5500. The legal significance of a counteroffer is that it completely voids the original offer, so that if the seller decided to sell for $5000 the next day, the buyer would be under no legal obligation to pay that amount for the car.
County Attorney
See District Attorney.
court calendar
A list of the cases and hearings that will be held by a court on a particular day, week or month. Because the length of time it will take to conduct a particular hearing or trial is at best a guess and many courts have a number of judges, accurately scheduling cases is difficult, with the result that court calendars are often revised and cases are often heard later than initially planned. A court calendar is sometimes called a docket, trial schedule or trial list.
court costs
The fees charged for the use of a court, including the initial filing fee, fees for serving the summons, complaint and other court papers, fees to pay a court reporter to transcribe deposition and in-court testimony and, if a jury is involved, to pay the daily stipend of jurors. Often costs to photocopy court papers and exhibits are also included. Court costs must be paid by both parties as the case progresses, but ultimately, the losing party will be responsible for both parties' costs.