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Copyrights on Forms to be Enforced

Posted: December 2000 — Reviewed: April 2011

AAR policy calls for the enforcement of the copyrights on the standard real estate forms developed and produced by the Association:

Those who alter AAR’s forms or sell or attempt to sell unauthorized copies of AAR forms will be vigorously pursued for violation of copyright law.— Policy II.5/2.

I. Developing AAR’s Forms Takes A Lot of Time and Effort

AAR’s forms are drafted by members of various committees and workgroups with the assistance of AAR staff and legal counsel. These people have collectively invested hundreds of hours in the creation of AAR’s forms.

II. AAR Forms Are Protected by Copyright

The AAR forms are original works, protected by federal copyright laws. After developing an original form, AAR registers the form, and deposits a copy of its form with the Register of Copyrights in Washington, D.C. AAR affixes a copyright notice, the year of publication, and the name of the copyright owner (AAR), which informs people that the form is protected by copyright.

III. AAR’s Rights as Copyright Holder

Copyright law is designed to prohibit all unauthorized, economically significant uses of the copyright works by persons other than the copyright holder. Therefore, AAR as the copyright holder of the forms created by AAR, has the exclusive right to: (1) reproduce (make copies of) the forms; (2) prepare derivative works from the forms; and (3) distribute the forms. AAR may exclude all others from reproducing or making copies of the forms by any means. A “copy” is any material object from which the forms can be perceived, reproduced or communicated, either with the naked eye or with the aid of a machine or other device. Copying AAR’s forms, either by photocopy or the use of a computer, without AAR’s authorization, constitutes copyright infringement. Copyrighted forms provided by AAR are made available as a member benefit via zipForm® to AAR members only.  AAR members are authorized to use the forms solely for their transactions.  The “zipForm® User Agreement” each member executes to gain access to zipForm® prohibits distributing the forms to a third party (non-member).

IV. AAR’s Remedies For Copyright Infringement

Anyone who produces copies of AAR’s forms, without AAR’s authorization, is subject to a copyright infringement action. In a copyright infringement action, a copyright holder may recover actual damages and any profits of the copyright infringer that are attributable to the infringement. In some cases, where it would be too costly to prove actual damages, statutory damages from $200 to $100,000 are available. The court may also require the copyright infringer to pay the copyright holder’s attorneys’ fees and costs. Injunctive relief, both temporary and permanent, prohibiting the copyright infringer from further copying of the work may also be imposed by the court. Finally, copyright law imposes criminal liability for willful or fraudulent infringement.

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