What Is Copyright Infringement?

Copyright is a well-known type of intellectual property (IP) protection represented by the © symbol. Copyright laws are designed to protect the owner who creates original works, which are creative expressions from others using and profiting their work, without permission. The idea is that the owner or creator owns the rights to the work and can decide if and how others use his or her creation.

For example, music copyright would exist for songwriters on their lyrics. When songwriters allow artists to record their words, there would be an agreement outlining how the right to record is granted, thus avoiding copyright infringement.

If another artist decided to record the same song without permission, the songwriter would be able to bring legal action for copyright infringement against the artist. If you believe that the copyright infringement definition sounds like stealing, you would be correct.

Use Caution If It’s Not Your Original Work

If you did not create it, the work is not yours to use freely, even if there is no copyright symbol. If you were to pass an unlocked bicycle on the street, you would not take it – that is obviously stealing. The same applies for a photograph on the Internet. Look for the license or permissions before you use anything that isn’t yours.

Video hosting companies such as YouTube use software to detect music copyright infringement before allowing uploads. Slide-share allows users to report copyright infringement. Artists and author can subscribe to online services that monitor and report plagiarism. However, there are many sites with free-to-use music and photos.

Look for Fair Use

Although ignorance is not a defense, there are some exceptions to the copyright infringement laws. There is an exception called “fair use,” which is often associated with education. The concept is that if you are using a photo or an article for educational or non-commercial purposes, then you may be exempt from infringement.

Overall, it’s important to understand the copyright laws or rights for any original creations to avoid copyright infringement. Being diverted by fines or legal action can take up valuable time and resources. The steps to avoiding copyright infringement are quite simple: identify and protect original works, and educate family and/or employees about copyright infringement.

Raza & Associates can help you register a copyright for your works, and we can put you in touch with an independent attorney who can answer questions about copyright infringement.