September 5, 2023
In an age where we are more connected than ever, and the amount of content produced online has never been higher, the task of protecting content has never been more relevant. However, staying on top of copyright rules on a content-rich internet can be challenging. Because not only is the internet saturated; so is the law; with clauses, exceptions and legal jargon, that is.
Many would agree that legal jargon is a language in itself, and it can be hard to find your way around the law. But for content creators with a presence on the internet, we know that understanding copyright terminology is key to protecting your content online.
This is why we’ve gathered Copyright Agent’s top 5 basic copyright legal terms that you should be aware of. So read on to get the legal lowdown on copyright 101 and take a step toward protecting your rights online!
“Are intellectual property and copyright the same thing?”.
... Well, not quite. However, the concepts are related. Many people confuse the two which is why both have made it to this top five.
Broadly speaking, intellectual property is a category of property that includes intangible (meaning not physical) creations of the human mind. This includes artistic and literary works as well as inventions, names and designs used in a commercial context.
Copyright's relationship to intellectual property is that copyright is a form of intellectual property just as designs, trademarks and patents are.
When you enforce your copyright, you enforce your intellectual property rights.
What comes to mind when you hear the word copyright? A feud between musicians about stolen song lyrics? The copyright symbol with the little c inside? Or perhaps an anti-piracy campaign telling teenagers that they wouldn't steal a car and that downloading pirated films is essentially the same thing.
Most people know of copyright, but don't really know that much about it. Kind of like that acquaintance whose name you know, but haven't had a deep conversation with…Yet! Because for a content creator, copyright is your best friend.
So what is Copyright?
Copyright refers to the legal right of the owner of certain types of intellectual property, this could be an image or a text and the person who created it holds the legal rights over it. That is, they have the right to control who uses their work and the contexts in which their work can be used.
The concept of copyright is twofold, as it covers both an economic and a moral right.
Economic rights entitle you to earn money off your creations. This involves your right to control and make copies of your work. Economic rights also entail the right to make your work available to the public (that includes sharing your work on the internet, too). You can give or sell your economic rights to others, allowing them to copy and earn money off your work as well.
As a content creator, you also have moral rights. This includes the right of attribution, i.e. the right to be named as the creator of your work, as well as the right of respect for your work. Unlike economic rights, moral rights cannot be transferred to others and will always stay with the creator of the work.
When authors, artists and content creators alike express their feelings of frustration about having their work copied, it is most often the breach of their moral rights that hits the hardest.Copyright can be considered a positive force for creatives, as it both protects their work and provides an incentive to generate more work, securing their livelihood and ultimately; promoting creativity.
As mentioned above, attribution is a way of giving credit to the creator of a work by naming them as the creator. This can be done with e.g. a watermark or a byline. Being named as the creator of the work helps maintain the ecosystem of originality, signposting others interested in using your work to the right copyright holder because let’s face it…. No one likes it when others take credit for their work!
The copyright owner or copyright holder is the individual or company that owns any one of the exclusive rights of copyright in a work. By default, if you take a photograph or create a written work, you are the copyright holder over it. However, if you are an employee and you create the work as part of your job, it is your employer who is the copyright holder. The same applies if you created the work as a work-for-hire, where the company or individual who hired you holds the copyright - but, this is usually something that is ironed out in a contract.
As the copyright owner, you have the right to require a license for the use of your work.
For example, say you are a nature photographer and a skincare product company would like to use some of your photos on their website to create a natural vibe around their organic skincare line, you could grant them a license for using your photos, with specific guidelines for their use.
This could be conditions such as the number of uses or the length of time before the license expires. Licenses can also specify whether the photos are for editorial or commercial use, i.e. if the purpose of their use is to illustrate something, like an article in a newspaper or to sell something.
Remember the economic rights aspect of copyright? Yeah, this is you exercising your economic rights, right there!
On your journey in the world of copyright, you will, without a doubt, come across many more terms relevant to you as a content creator. However, with these top 5 basic terms, you are well on your way.
The main take-away point is that you have rights under the law that can help you protect your content online and whether you want to fully license your work or simply be rightfully accredited for your new creation, copyright law is here to help you.
Interested in learning more about your copyrights online?
Feel free to reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions you may have - our legal experts are always up for a chat on all things copyright!