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What exactly is a copyright?

News and Notes Focused on the 3 Public Faces of IP Law

  • Brand Image Protection - Trademark Law
  • Visual Image Protection - Copyright Law
  • Personal Image Protection - Right of Publicity Law

The Image Protection Law blog has been created in order to share stories and information on the legal aspects of: 1) the marketplace reputation of a company or product captured in its trademark, 2) published or publicly-displayed artwork, photography, and any created visual design, and 3) use of a person's photograph or likeness for product promotion or other commercial purposes.

The "IP3" share at least one thing in common: Image is everything. In these posts let's look at what that means in the realm of intellectual property in the news, but let's also be prepared to explore if there's something more beyond "everything." Don't forget, the intellectual in "intellectual property" doesn't mean smart or brainy, although by nature true creators often are. The word is used to refer to any creation, i.e., a "product of the mind." While this blog will be regularly updated, you are encouraged to share your thoughts on these posts.

They say that imitation is the highest form of flattery, but when it comes to an artist's personal property and creations, this can only go so far. Copyrights are utilized to protect one's intellectual property from others who may try to claim it as their own or even profit from it. A copyright covers all form of material expression, meaning that it could include anything from artwork such as paintings and sculptures to live performances, to movies, photographs and literary works such as poems, scripts, plays and novels.

Copyrights are important to a creator because they assure certain protections and rights, including the right to reproduce their work, distribute said work and copies of the work for sales or leases, display the work in public forum, and to perform the work publicly, without fear of the theft of the property. These rights are exclusive, meaning that the copyright holder has sole possession of this property, including the right to transfer ownership.

There are instances where the creator does not automatically become the copyright holder, such as cases of work made for hire. This occurs when an independent contractor is hired by someone to create the work, thereby forfeiting the copyright to the person who hired the artist to create the work. Examples of this may include an employee for a graphics designs company, or a freelance writer.

Although many artists may not want the hassle of dealing with such issues, it is important to recognize that copyright laws protect your work. If you believe others may be using your work without your permission, it may be in your best interest to speak with a lawyer to protect your rights as a creative artist.

Source:, "What is a copyright?" Accessed April 4, 2017

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