When it comes to your professional work, you want to make sure that the audience to whom you are advertising can directly link your services and creations to your brand. Copyright laws are dictated at the federal level, and these laws are universally applied to all instances of licensing and branding across the country. Understanding the scope of copyright laws, and how they impact your specific branding, is important for building a solid company image. This can help you boost your clientele and improve your business.
Copyrights and trademarks are frequently used interchangeably, but they are used for specific kinds of intellectual property and differ significantly from one another. In general, copyrights protect original creative work, whereas trademarks cover company names, slogans, and logos. The rights of those who produce artistic, literary, musical, theatrical, and other specific intellectual works are generally protected by copyrights (like software code). The use of a company’s name, product names, brand identification (such as logos), and slogans are all protected by trademarks. The two protections are managed by two different departments within the federal government because they are so legally distinct from one another. While the U.S. Copyright Office grants copyrights, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office is responsible for trademarks.
The focus of most copyright cases is the idea of originality. Any work of art, ranging from written works to music pieces and even choreographed dance routines, can be copyrighted if it is original. Ideas, concepts, systems, or ways of doing something are not covered by copyright, and ownership cannot be claimed over these items. You are free to convey your ideas through writing or art and to assert your copyright over the work itself. However, you should be aware that this does not protect the idea as it appears in your written or artistic creation.
In some fields, such as mathematics, the names of certain theorems or problem-solving techniques are typically attributed to the scholars who devised or discovered them. Those names are not considered copyrighted, though. Using the Pythagorean theorem as an example, this scientific way of evaluating length was developed by a man named Pythagoras centuries ago, leading to this theorem sharing his name. If another scientist or mathematician were to use the same theorem and claim that they invented this method of problem-solving, they would not be able to copyright that theorem. This is because it is a commonly accepted rule of mathematics with a long history and common usage across multiple fields.
Once you create a piece of intellectual property, acting fast to achieve copyright is the best way to avoid having your ideas or works stolen, repurposed, and distributed without your consent. There are three major requirements for copyrighting any piece of intellectual property:
If what you were trying to copyright does not match these criteria, you may need to reevaluate the media you are presenting as well as figure out which pieces of said media conflict with these copyright standards. If you attempt to copyright a piece of material that is too similar to something that has already been copyrighted by someone else, you run the risk of engaging in copyright infringement, which is illegal and carries hefty legal consequences.
A: Under common copyright laws, you cannot copyright any ideas, methods, or systems, like math formulas or production methods. You also cannot copyright common knowledge like calendar systems or measurements. Although you are prohibited from copyrighting names and articles of clothing, brand names and signature prints manufactured by certain brands can be copyrighted.
A: Typically, some of the most common works that are copyrighted are artistic works, which encompass written works, physical pieces of art, and even theatrical performances. These pieces of intellectual property are understood to be original works stemming from one creator or a group of creators. They are thus an expression of that artist’s or those artists’ intellect. Although it may protect how these things are expressed, copyright does not protect facts, ideas, systems, or methods of operation.
A: Copyright protection must meet three fundamental criteria: it must be original, fixed in a physical medium of expression, and the work of one or more people. For example, a published book can be copyrighted if the information contained on the inside is completely original, it is a tangible book, and it is crafted by the individual seeking the copyright.
A: Violating copyright laws, often referred to as copyright infringement, is a serious crime and can land you in jail. Some common examples of copyright infringement include recording a movie while in the theater, using copyrighted images or music in your own branding, or using a copyrighted image or phrase in merchandise sold by your company, all without proper licensing agreements.
Creating any kind of media, especially an original work of art, can be crucial for identifying yourself or your brand from your competitors and peers. Taking the steps to copyright your work, regardless of its form or whether it is personal or business-related, can help create a unique brand that showcases your work and directly links it to you. At Four Reasons Legal, our team can help you with the copyright process and get you on track to creating a solid brand image. Contact us today for help with your copyright case.