The basics of using copyright law to protect creative work

Many artists here in New York know that obtaining a copyright for their work is important, but they may not fully understand all the matters around this legal issue. Fortunately, there are facets of copyright law that are fairly straightforward. Getting a basic understanding of these points may help artists realize how copyright law can protect them and their creations from improper use.

The first question artists may have is exactly what sorts of works may be subject to copyright. The work has to be in some sort of tangible form to be eligible for copyright protection. This means that copyright could protect an actual physical copy of the work, and not just a concept of one. Though an artist doesn't have to register the copyright with the U.S. Copyright Office, doing so is what will allow the artist to pursue a claim of copyright infringement.

Once an artist or creator has obtained a copyright for the work, there are certain rights that apply to it. The copyright gives the owner sole permission to reproduce, sell or display the work. If the copyright owner wants to transfer those rights, which often happens in the artistic world, he or she has final say in who may obtain a license to use the work. Transferring ownership of the copyright means the original owner no longer holds a copyright, but the owner could instead simply grant someone else a license to use the work in a defined way.

These points are just the beginning of the basics of copyright law. Those who want a better understanding may want to talk to a copyright law attorney here in New York who can guide them through the process and advise artists of available options. It may be the best way to ensure that an artist ensures that his or her creation is properly valued.

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