Copyrights, patents, trademarks, and trade secrets are ways that people can protect their intellectual property. However, there are key differences in each of the protection instruments as to what exactly they are protecting.

One of the most used tools in intellectual property cases is Copyright. According to the government copyright office, it protects “original works of authorship, including literary, dramatic, musical and artistic works, such as poetry, novels, films, songs, computer software and architecture.” However, it does not protect “… facts, ideas, systems or methods of operation.” In simple terms, most of the time you will see a circled “C” (representing copyright) in a book, on a CD, in video games, and even in a script.

This form of intellectual property law is designed to protect the creator. Consumers like you could risk copyright infringement without even knowing it. For this reason, it’s good to read up on how to follow the rules when it comes to using © stamp work. It is important to note that even if a work does not declare the copyright symbol, it may still be protected by law. Legalzoom describes the idea behind copyright by writing, “The author or creator owns the rights to the work and can decide if and how others use their creation.” It is especially illegal if you were to use someone’s copyrighted work for profit or commercial purposes. Legalzoom It also lists some examples of copyright infringement that may seem harmless to consumers, but are actually illegal.

  • Download movies and music without proper payment for their use
  • Movie recording at the theater
  • Using others’ photos for a blog without permission
  • Copying software without giving adequate credit
  • Create videos with unlicensed music clips
  • Copy books, blogs, or podcasts without permission
  • Anything where you are copying someone else’s original work without an agreement.

If you’ve ever scrolled through YouTube, you’ve probably come across an amateur singer performing a cover of a well-known song. If that amateur artist did not get permission from the original composer, it is technically copyright infringement. Will a big celebrity file a lawsuit for a singer’s video with 10 views? Probably not, but technically it could. Large companies sometimes employ software that can crawl the Internet with the primary purpose of looking for cases of copyright infringement, so taking the risk is not a good idea.

To avoid copyright infringement completely, you must be tired of how you are using an artistic expression that you did not create. Regardless of whether you see the copyright symbol or not, you should always assume that the owner would take legal action against you if you used their work freely without permission or credit.

Some artists or writers are more than willing to share their work with the world, but read this first. These types of agreements come in the form of licenses, which allow consumers to use the work with specific regulations and stipulations attached.

If you are using the work for educational purposes, there is no need to stay up at night worrying about the image you used in your slideshow last week. There is an exception called “fair use”, which allows what would normally be a violation if the use was for a non-commercial reason.

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