A copyright is an important protection for specific creative works that individuals and businesses have created. The concept of copyrights originates with the U.S. Constitution.

For all business owners and individuals, understanding copyrights can help to avoid some potential issues down the road. There are several things that you need to understand about copyrights if you are going to handle any aspect of your business or personal life that uses creative works.

What are copyrights, patents and trademarks?

A copyright is a protection for an intellectual work. A patent is a protection for discoveries or inventions. A trademark is a protection for designs, symbols, phrases and designs that are used for source identification of goods and services. It is possible for businesses or individuals to have all three of these protections for various aspects of their company’s brand.

What types of intellectual works are covered by copyrights?

Artistic, literary, musical and dramatic works are all covered under copyright law. Interestingly, architecture and computer software are protected. This doesn’t include ideas, facts or ways that things work.

What do I need to do to get copyright protection for my work?

Technically, you don’t have to do anything to have copyright protection. As soon as you create a work and put it into a tangible form, such as writing out a poem, it is protected by a copyright.

It is possible to register a copyright, which is necessary if you need to bring a lawsuit regarding copyright infringement. If you register the intellectual work, you will get a certificate of registration and there is a public record of the copyright.

If you plan on registering a copyright, there is a benefit of doing this within the first five years after the work was created. By getting the process started within this timefame, the evidence is considered prima facie, which means that it is accepted as fact unless someone can prove otherwise. This could be a big advantage in court if you have to take legal action regarding an infringement.

What should I do if someone steals my work?

You can file a lawsuit for copyright infringement if the work was registered. You will be able to seek compensation for attorney fees and statutory damages. Bringing this type of case is important if you want the person or entity to stop using your works, but it might not be necessary in all cases. There are instances in which legal notices might get the job done, which can be helpful if you haven’t suffered any monetary loss due to the infringement.