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Does Copyright Law Apply to My Business?

You’re vaguely familiar with the concept of copyright law. It’s for fine artists — musicians, painters, filmmakers — right? Yes, but copyright law can apply to so much more. This post is a quick review of what copyright law protects and some of the non-traditional content that might fall under the umbrella of copyright protection.

Refresher: What Copyright Law Protects

We’ve talked about this before, but copyright law protects original creative works. Film, music, 2-D artwork (like paintings and graphic designs), 3-D artwork (like sculptures and some jewelry), novels,… all of the traditional things you think about when you think ‘creative works.”

What you might not realize is that copyright also protects some things you might not automatically think of. The source code behind an app is actually protectable as a “literary work” (the same category as a novel or other written work). An e-course might be a combination of graphic designs (2-D artwork), text, and video (audiovisual works). A free, downloadable pdf might also have 2-D artwork and text. (It might also have your branding, but your name and logo fall under trademark territory).

Does Copyright Law Apply to Your Business? Probably, If…

You Design Stuff

Web designers, logo designers, animators — you’re creators. All of that stuff that you create could be protectable under US copyright law. If you’re creating things for others (like clients), copyright should come up. Who owns the work product? 

You Hire Others to Design Stuff For You

Again, if you’re hiring others (designers, developers, copywriters) to create materials for you, the question of “who owns this” is likely to come up at some point. Do you expect to own that content? And, are you going to register it with the Copyright Office?

You’re An “Infopreneur”

If you’re hocking your knowledge in the form of e-courses, workbooks, and checklists, it’s time to think about copyright protection. Copyright law may apply, even if the content is informational (as opposed to fictional).

You’re a Traditional Creative

Of course, musicians, photographers, and fine artists might be a little more familiar with copyright protection. It’s widely known that copyright law covers music, photos, film, and art. So, folks in these industries likely assume copyright law applies to them in some fashion.

The Point: Copyright law applies to more than just the “traditional” fine arts. To answer the question “Does copyright law apply to my business?” look at things like creating content. Even non-traditional, “non-artsy” content can be protected under U.S. copyright law.