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  • Writer's pictureZack Turner

Understanding Copyright

Updated: Jul 5, 2023

A magnifying glass with the copyright symbol

What is copyright? Who or what does it protect? Is it even something I should worry about? These were all the questions our team was confused about and figured a lot of other people were too. So, we sat down with attorney and educator Natalie Puglisi to help us get some clarity. What we found is copyright is pretty fascinating and something all content creators should be concerned about.

There are four main types of copyright that are used to protect intellectual property: literary, musical, artistic, and dramatic. Each type of copyright has its own set of rules and protections. Literary copyright covers work such as books, articles, and other written works. Musical copyright covers compositions and recordings. Artistic copyright covers paintings, sculptures, and other visual works. Dramatic copyright covers plays, screenplays, and other stage productions.

As a professional, it's important to understand copyright and how it can impact your business. Copyright is a form of intellectual property protection that gives creators the exclusive right to reproduce, distribute, and perform their work. This means that if you want to use someone else's copyrighted material, you need to get their permission first.

If you're not sure whether you need to get permission or not, it's always a good idea to consult with a lawyer. They can help you understand copyright law and determine whether you need to get permission from the copyright holder. Best practice alert: always ask for permission or utilize royalty-free services.

“While you can simply put the registered mark (circle c) on your work, without a copyright registration you do not have much legal ground to stand on when fighting to gain control over your work,” says Natalie. Without a registration, not only is it nearly impossible to impose legal action against someone who is using your work without permission, you are unable to license your work and earn income when used.

When you are using someone else's work in your next graphic design or print project, make sure you have the permission of the copyright holder to do so. Otherwise, you could be infringing on their copyright and put your company at risk. Requesting permission is easy and can be done by email, DM, or letter – just as long as the permission granted is in writing. If you’re unable to obtain permission, it’s suggested to not use the asset at all.

For a more in-depth discussion on copyright listen to our most recent IDEA Lab Podcast where we chat with Natalie Puglisi about all things copyright.

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