Copyright 101

Richard Rimer

June 7, 2023

Copyrights 101


A Copyright is a type of intellectual property that covers expressive works. While most people associate copyrights with the arts, copyrights also cover items ranging from content on websites and social media to software code. Copyrights are owned by the author, that is, the person who creates the “expressive work” controls the right to use and duplicate the work.

There is an exception when the author is acting as an employee—then the company is the owner. This ownership begins the moment the author fixes the work in a tangible medium (e.g., actually places pen to paper). The company needs to get all other works it has created assigned to the company.

Copyright Registration

You do not need to register your copyright to own it. In fact, very few countries have a registration system for copyrights. The US is one country that does, and you get additional rights if you get a registration. First, you must have a registration to sue someone for infringing your rights in a copyright. Second, if your registration issues before your work is infringed, you have the ability to claim statutory damages.

The explosion of social media and other online forums has made copyright more important to almost any type of company. The companies that rely most heavily on copyright tend to be creative companies such as studios, production houses, publishers, etc.

Understanding what is controlled by copyright is step one in reviewing your reliance on copyright. You would want to make sure that the copyrightable material your company uses does not infringe on someone else’s rights, and then you would want to see what material you own so that you can consider registering and/or enforcing your rights in that material.

Check out this post on Taylor Swift’s legal issues regarding her intellectual property.

Brand Infringement