In this age of instant communication, more and more ideas are being born and products created than ever before. With the current entrepreneurial trend, new business owners are creating never-before-seen content and services in order to better the world. With so much going on, it can be easy to create something that copies another person a little too closely. Luckily, there are several steps that can be taken to overcome copyright issues.
1. Get permission from the original owner.
When it comes to using copyrighted content, the only legal way to make use of the content is to contact the original owner and ask for permission. In the event this is impossible, there are websites like Creative Commons that offer royalty-free image and audio files that are free for commercial use.
2. Trademark and copyright your own content.
If you create something you intend to turn into a business or revenue stream, it is important to obtain legal rights to it. While it may be your intellectual property, you cannot prevent someone from creating a similar idea and starting a business based on it. It's important to trademark and copyright your ideas in order to protect them.
3. Obtain a legal copyright.
Intellectual property can be copyrighted by simply putting the copyright symbol in front of it with your name. However, the Copyright Act covers certain topics that are not so easy to claim ownership of, including architectural and choreographic works. Speaking to a copyright lawyer is the way to go to properly claim ownership of your own work and prevent illegal copying of it.
4. Trademark your property.
A trademark differs from a copyright primarily in the things it protects. While a copyright is usually used to cover a creative work, trademarks are used to protect names, logos, symbols, and other corporate IPs. The process of trademarking a property is lengthy and complicated, so it's best to consult professional help. You must first search to ensure no similar trademarks exist to the one you want to file; even if an existing trademark isn't identical, one that is too similar can make it impossible for you file.
5. Remember: registration isn't absolutely required.
Since 1978, there has been no formal requirement in the United States for copyrighted work to bear the copyright symbol. A novel, for instance, is protected as soon as it is ‘saved' in a word document. That said, registering the work offers certain protections that proprietary copyrighting does not. A person can only sue over copyright issue if their copyright is registered. The restitution a person may receive for damages will only count after the content is registered, not before.
While it may be an extra step, taking the time to copyright and trademark your property, whether intellectual or physical, can protect it in ways that claiming ownership cannot. Copyright issues can pose a number of problems for content creators or those who want to use content, but knowing how to overcome this problems before they arise can prevent a lot of headaches.
George N Anderson is a blogger and online business consultant. He loves reading, traveling, keeping up with the latest technologies, and sharing useful sites like Omni Legal Group, an experienced law firm helping clients with trademark registration, search, licensing and enforcement.
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