How To Protect Yourself & Others From Copyright Infringement

Copyright is a hazardous legal minefield for companies, especially since the web makes it so easy to unthinkingly cut & paste and improperly reuse content for advertising and marketing purposes. Organizations must guard against staff members' naïve use of copyrighted photographs, music, software programs, as well as various other works-- an activity that can develop significant liability. On the other hand, organizations must also secure and police their original works.


 What is Copyright?   


 Copyright is an effective intellectual property security device based on the U.S. Constitution that secures original works of authorship. An author possesses a copyright in any original work they produce and "fix in a tangible medium." Simply put, there is no copyright in a concept, but copyright protects the expression of the idea. Those expressions consist of pictures, tracks, lyrics, performances, videos, paintings, publications, articles, manuscripts, musical compositions, and other physical presentations of the idea.


A copyright is created when a work is developed or fixed in a tangible medium. Often, the author/creator has the copyright. In other instances, the copyright owner is the company that utilized the author/creator or someone else to whom the author/creator offered or assigned the copyright.


 The copyright proprietor has the prerogative to use or reproduce the work, to distribute or license copies of the work, to carry out or present the property, and to prepare acquired works based upon the original work. The copyright owner can also accredit the use of the property to others. Often, rights and license permissions are taken care of by external companies that constantly search for violations of their properties or any infraction of the copyright owner's exclusive rights in the properties.


Respect Others' Copyrights-- Beware Cut & Paste


Copyrighted items, such as songs, photographs, books, articles, compositions, paintings, and so on, are readily available on the net. Because you can access and duplicate the works does not suggest that you can legitimately copy and paste, carry out, display, or otherwise utilize these available works.


 While a specific artwork might influence your new tee shirt style, direct use of that painting may infringe on the artist's exclusive right to display the work and produce derivative works. It is simple to cut & paste a photo, video clip, or graphic layout onto your website, videos, discussion, or social media, such as Instagram, yet doing so might infringe on another's exclusive right to use and duplicate the work. 


Is it also straightforward to copy a music track and add it to your YouTube video clip, yet doing so could infringe on someone's right to control the property. 


 You must ask for approval to use, duplicate, carry out, or display someone else's work. That is the cost of doing business. Most likely, the license price is much less than the cost of a forced license purchase-- or a settlement demand. You may also have to pay attorney and court costs if an author/creator or their representative pursues you for copyright infringement in a U.S. government area court.


 If you cannot afford a license, consider creating your own original work to sustain your ventures. You can also obtain properties in the public domain (i.e., not shielded by copyright) or provided to the public license-free.


Protect Your Original Works  


Your U.S. legal rights do not secure you outside the United States, although numerous international countries use protection for U.S. works under particular conditions. You do not have to register the copyright to claim rights, but you must register the copyright to sue for copyright infringement in a U.S. government district court. 


 If you ever discover that somebody else has copied your work, ownership of a signed up copyright from the U.S. Copyright Office is necessary for enforcement versus the copyright infringer. The registration might qualify for collection of legal damages from the infringer of between $750 and $30,000 per work and $150,000 per infringement.


 With or without registration, copyright can prevent infringers from copying your work. If you publish or release your photographs or visual designs on an internet site or social media page, apply a watermark over your images or otherwise mark the properties to inhibit easy cut & paste of a pristine copy of the works. It could look like this: © 2020 Jane Smith.


Copyright Tips


To safeguard your work from copyright issues:

  • Protect yourself and on copyright, explicitly concerning the risks of cut & paste usage of others' pictures, articles, songs, and graphics.
  • Develop plans to avoid the use of others' original works as well as to safeguard your original works of authorship
  • When feasible, be original and create your own works, purchase original works, or meticulously plan to use public or license-free works.
  • Register for copyright protection from the U.S. Copyright Office for your original works of authorship.