What’s a copyright and what does it protect?

A copyright is a legal right that protects original works of authorship.

Examples of things that can be protected by copyright are:

  • Visual art (like photographs and illustrations)
  • Written material (like the text from a book or a web page)
  • Recorded material (like dialogue from a movie and song lyrics)

So how can copyright help you as an artist? Lots of ways. If you own a copyright, it generally means that only you can use your creation unless you give someone else permission. For example, no one else can:

  • Copy your artwork
  • Modify it
  • Sell it
  • Perform it

Remember: copyright only protects the actual things you make, not the ideas you have. If you dreamt of a wombat riding a motorcycle, it’s not copyrighted ‘till it’s on a tangible medium (on paper, on your computer, or on film). Make it happen!

Too late, I already did.

Obligatory Yet Very Important Legal Disclaimer:

Don’t be fooled by any complicated jargon (and how snazzy we look in pinstripe). We are not your lawyer and this is not legal advice. We recommend contacting an attorney if you need an actual legal consultation.

Rather, this is general information aimed at giving you the legal lay of the land. While we can’t defend you in court, we know that art and IP ownership can be murky territory; the least we can do is arm you with the right kind of knowledge to get you started.