Content copyright and how it can affect your business can be murky and confusing if you do not understand copyright laws. Copyright protection applies to “original works of authorship.” In other words, written words, music and art, as well as some other intellectual property. Works does not have to be published in the traditional sense to protect copyright. Different countries have different copyright applicable to works carried out in these countries.
A copyright should not be confused with the brand. Brand cover designs, logos, words, names and other aspects of the company and intended for easy identification. Trademarks are made brands that apply to a particular business. Even though the brand may contain words or phrases, they are not the same and works protected by copyright. They do not receive automatic protection. Brand, unlike copyright, need to be registered to be protected. Brand has no impact on copyright and how it can affect your business.
It is important to understand copyright and how it can affect your business, even if your business has nothing to do with writing or creating “works of authorship” in the stereotypical sense. Copy written for the website, the text in the brochure with your company, and other marketing collateral containing text are protected by copyright. If another person or company uses the web or marketing copy without your knowledge, authorization or proper attribution, it is a violation of copyright. Copyright infringement is a serious issue that can and often lead to expensive litigation. There is no “acceptable” amount of text that can be used without the appropriate license. This includes derivative works, the works are directly derived from the original, even if they are significantly changed.
Even if you do not write copy for your website or marketing, you can still copyrights. If you hire someone specifically to write the text for you, this is considered a work-for-hire. Work-for-hire are written words, graphics, recordings, and other tasks that would normally have copyright protection. They are created in the course of employment or contract for another person or a company’s use. In general terms, if the employee or contractor hired by you made it, you hold the copyright. In that respect copyright and how it can affect your business may not be obvious. However, educating yourself on copyright laws for your country can determine what may or may not apply.