A copyright is an important legal document to obtain when you have a product you want to protect. Copyrights are used for many works including computer programs, style guides, recipes, fabric designs, sculpture, literature and other items.
Copyrights are designed to help people protect their intellectual property. They protect original works such as music or literature. They're designed to stay with you for life and beyond, helping you protect the work you put so much effort into.
Copyrights aren't always easy to understand, and there is at least one major myth that has to be dispelled immediately involving the ease with which some believe they can obtain a copyright.
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.
The history of copyright is an interesting thing. It started as long ago as the 1700s, with the first copyright law enacted in America in 1790. Before splitting off from Britain, a similar law, the Statute of Anne, was used. The United States based its first copyright law on this statute, determining that it would protect maps, charts and books for 14 years after their registrations and another 14 after that. It was a limited law that worked at the time.
Music is not free -- even when it is used only for background music in an office or a restaurant. Many people are not aware that they are infringing upon California copyright laws any time they play a musician's or author's music in a public place. That is why so many restaurant and bar owners are surprised when they receive a letter or call informing them that they owe fees for copyright infringement.
Imagine if your pet could bring in a steady paycheck for you, let alone a $710,000 lump sum payout, just for looking grumpy! Well, that is just what one "grumpy-looking" cat named Tardar Sauce has going for it.
When you look back at the history of music, it is easy to see patterns in which artists borrowed heavily from other creative musical minds. At one time, not much happened to prevent or dissuade this practice, but about 50 years ago, artists began to take a more serious stance against plagiarism.
Copyright law is both simple and complex at the same time. It is simple because intellectual creations automatically receive legal protection. It is complex because unscrupulous people can take your work and claim it as their own anyway.
To a layperson that owns intellectual property or operates a business in California, copyright law seems extremely complex. These people want to protect their intellectual property, but often have a poor understanding of the ins and outs of copyright law and the fair use doctrine. The laws surrounding intellectual property do help protect ideas, products and processes, but that does not necessarily mean that no one can use your property.