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Protecting your artwork: Copyright laws and your rights

As an artist, you know it's going to be hard to protect your work. It doesn't take more than a few minutes for someone to grab a screenshot of your art, enhance it and sell it on their own T-shirts or products.

As a result, you know that putting your work online puts it at risk, but you need to sell your work. How can you protect your art and prevent others from stealing from you? Is it even possible?

Artists and copyrights: The reality

The moment you complete your piece of artwork, it is protected by law, according to the United States Copyright Law and Copyright.gov website. As soon as it is available in tangible or digital form, your work is protected from being used by others without your permission.

That doesn't mean you shouldn't take further steps to protect it. Formally registering your artwork can help you protect it. It's unlikely you'll want to do that for every piece you make, so focus on doing so only for popular pieces or those with a high potential profit. For instance, fan art, artwork that includes an artist's take on characters from movies or popular media, is often stolen, even when the artist has a right to produce and sell the work through agreements with certain companies or entities.

Anyone who creates art with commercial appeal or who has a large following online needs to take steps to protect themselves. Our site has more on what you can do to protect your artwork. You work hard on your art, and you should be able to protect it.

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Costello Law Corporation
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