COPYRIGHT AND TRADEMARKS

 

What is a Copyright?

Copyright protects original works in many forms (pictures, drawings, graphics, written work, songs and more). A copyright is a bundle of rights, including the exclusive right to do things such as distribute, sell, duplicate, and create derivative works from the original work. Copyright law is meant to protect from others copying, distributing or selling original work without permission.

As a general rule, for works created after Jan. 1, 1978, copyright protection lasts for the life of the author plus an additional 70 years. In general, works created before 1922 are in the public domain. However, if a change has been made to a work taken from the public domain, the new work may be copyrightable and protected. To determine the length of copyright protection for a particular work, consult chapter 3 of the Copyright Act (Title 17 of the United States Code).

You should NOT presume that material is in the public domain without verifying it with an attorney or other reputable source. You should also NOT presume that material publicly available on private or commercial websites is not protected by copyright. Almost all works are protected by copyright, even if they do not have a copyright notice. Therefore, you should assume that you need to obtain permission to use any material that you did not create. Do not copy someone else’s work without first obtaining their permission to do so.

What about Trademarks?

In short, a trademark is someone’s name/brand. The long of it; a trademark is a word, name, symbol or other device that identifies the goods or services of a given person or company and distinguishes them from the goods or services of other persons or companies. Trademark law prevents you from using another’s trademark (such as the name of a musical group or artist) on your merchandise, because such use may cause consumers to believe that the trademark owner has made, approved of, or endorsed your merchandise.