Copyright laws protect original works in fields like literature, music, film, computer software, architecture, and graphic design. They ensure original designs are not copied or manipulated without permission, which is known as copyright infringement.
Every design firm needs to have a good understanding of basic copyright laws. Designers can then know when they might be committing copyright infringement or when another designer is infringing upon their copyright. If you end up infringing on copyright, you could be sued and have to pay substantial fines. In some cases, you could even face criminal liability. So, it is imperative you get to know copyright law basics. Here are five things you definitely need to know about.
An Original Work Is Automatically Subject to Copyright Laws
If you are worried that someone else might steal your work, you may be wondering how to go about copyrighting your designs. However, in the US, you actually do not need to do anything to protect your work. As soon as an original work is created, the designer or design firm automatically owns the copyright. You do not need to submit any applications. Nor do your designs need to show the © symbol for it to be protected by copyright law. One part of copyright law that helps protect your designs is known as moral rights, which are intended to codify and protect a creative-work via rights of attribution and rights of integrity. Find out more about moral rights infringement to see how your design firm’s work can be protected.
Modeling a Design Based on a Photograph Is Considered Copyright Infringement
Photographs are protected by copyright just as much as your original designs. That means you are not legally allowed to draw a picture that is based on a photograph. Although there are rare exceptions, translating a copied image into a different medium is considered copyright infringement. So, stay away from basing designs on other works, including photographs.
Using Software to Manipulate an Image Is Considered Copyright Infringement
Like the above example, if you manipulate a digital copyrighted image, whether it be a photograph or artwork, with design software, you will most likely be committing copyright infringement. Stay away from manipulating third-party images to ensure your designs remain within the law.
Third-party Images Are Not Always Copyright-free
Although copying or manipulating photographs and other images can lead to copyright infringement, you may think it is perfectly OK to use images from online sites that claim to be copyright free. However, work that claims to be copyright free is not always so. You need to spend some time looking at the general liability of using third-party images and the different licenses available to ensure you use third-party images in a 100% legal way. It is often best to simply stay away from third-party images altogether. Besides, any top-rate design firm only uses original material, so it will only do your reputation good to use non-third-party images.
Copyright Laws for Logos Are Complicated
When it comes to logos, copyright law becomes complicated. Basically, any logo copyright infringement is judged on a case-by-case basis. For a logo to be deemed to have copyright protection, it has to reach a certain level of originality and creativity. Much of the complex nature of logo copyright is due to the fact that copyright does not expand to things like fonts, colors, and familiar symbols. However, if you design a logo, you can protect it with trademark laws.
Pearl Gibson – Pearl is a freelance writer who is passionate about sharing her thoughts on business and marketing. Her interests also include traveling, swimming, and sketching.