Copyright Law: What All Entrepreneurs Need to Know

If you're an artist, writer, musician, or creator, understanding copyright law is paramount to protecting your art. Keep in mind that even when you have a copyright in place, it's important to work to protect the things you create. An attorney can help. Here's what you need to know.

When you spend weeks, months, or even years creating a story, song, or piece of artwork, it's natural to want to protect that creation. More importantly, you should. Copyright extends to more than just traditional artistic works, however. Anytime you create something for your business or company, you may want to consider copyright as a way to protect the things you create from being copied. Even if you've never dealt with copyright before, there are a few things you need to know about your rights as a creator.

First off, make sure you understand what copyright protects. Simply put, copyright prevents other people from explicitly copying or redistributing your creations. For example, if you create a book, readers cannot copy your characters and redistribute the material for pay. Similarly, if you write a song, another person cannot sell that song and claim it is theirs. Copyright is designed to protect creators regardless of the medium they use to create art or products. It ensures not only that the original creator is credited for their work, but that others cannot profit off that creation.

Note that copyright begins the moment you create something. You do not necessarily have to register your copyright immediately; however, registering your copyright with the government can help create a paper trail in case something does happen with your copyright. It's a much more straightforward process to claim you own the copyright to a piece of work when you have the registration. Even if you do not, however, this does not mean you will lose your right to a copyright.

If you notice that someone has stolen your copyrighted property, modified it, or redistributed it, you may need to act in order to protect your copyright. The easiest way to pursue legal action is to meet with an attorney who can help answer your questions about copyright law. Understand that due to "fair use" laws, your written works may sometimes be quoted without your permission; however, users cannot directly copy your material or redistribute it. Similarly, your music cannot be played without your permission, nor can theater performances be recorded without your consent.

Even if you aren't familiar with copyright law, keep in mind that the right attorney can offer guidance and assistance as you learn exactly what it takes to protect your art. Whether you want to copyright something you've created or you want to protect an existing copyright, the right business attorney can help keep you and your creations safe. Don't wait to reach out. When you realize you need assistance with your copyright, contact a business lawyer right away.