What Designers Should Know About Copyright Laws

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While the web world has given immense range of options for creative people give shape to ideas and earn their living, there are some issues involved too. If you can guess what issues I am talking about here is the stealing of your work and pass it on to others on their name.

In the quest to complete the projects we undertake and meet the deadline, one forgets to seal the designs created once we are done with the same. And one fine day, we are left wide mouth opened seeing our work published on some other’s name. That moment is an eye-opener! Why ignore such an important issue and land into such a situation when we have a smart way out namely copyright. Defined as an exclusive right to control the reproduction and exploitation of your work, copyright ensures your work remains yours and none is able to steal your work and is in the eyes of law.

This article revolves around what are copyright laws and how graphic designer can use them to protect their work. It is of prime importance to get your signature on your original designs. Also, don’t forget to properly cite borrowed graphics that you use to avoid any potential legal issue against you.

If you are aware of many renowned graphic institute these days offer the Adobe training to help designers learn how to cite your work. We do understand the value of time and the level of exhaustion one is into after the completion of one designing task but then leaving it open for copycats to steal is definitely not  nice idea. It is suggested to keep yourself aware of copyright laws before actually you begin your business but incase you are already into it, its not too late. Read out the understand what is copyright and how you can use the laws to keep your work protected.

What Designers Should Know About Copyright Laws

What is copyright?

Copyright is the right to stop other people from copying, publishing or adapting your work without your prior permission. You as the owner of the copyright in an original work has the exclusive right to copy it, publish it, display it, distribute it and no one else; not even your close ones.  

What can’t you copyright?

Designers can copyright their designs but then there are certain things like titles, names, slogan, symbols, coloring, lettering, listing, measurement charts, calendars, government or legal documents that can’t be copyrighted. You can protect these by trademarks. 

Read on to learn more about copyright laws :  

Register Your Copyright

If you want to be able to sue copycats and enjoy benefits like presumption of copyright ownership, right to claim statutory damages; it is mandatory to register your copyright but then it is not a requirement for enjoying copyright protection.

Define Infringement

Infringement is when somebody when others take a substantial part of your design without your authority. Standards vary from country to country on what is regarded as substantial but the rule is that the substance of your work is that part that gives it its originality. Your copyright can be infringed by someone else who distributes or makes infringing copies of your work that is available for sale knowing that your copyright has been infringed.

Is My Work My Copyright?

The answer is no incase you are designing for an employer who will own part of the copyright of your work. But then if you are working for yourself, the copyright will be yours.

What Do You Need To Sue

If copyright registration is not used, you need to keep records of the works you create. Besides proving that you are the owner of the copyright in the work, you must be able to show what’s the connection between your work and the copied version. If you can prove that the copycat had access to your work before the copied version was created, the ball is in your court but then if you are unable to prove it, and the other party shows that they didn’t have any access to your work, you will both have copyright.

Seeking Compensation

If you are able to prove that the person copied your design, then you can seek damages by filing for an injunction that firstly prevents any more distribution or copying of your work and claim compensation for the copies of your work that have already be used.

Creative Commons License

Creative commons is a way for designers to share their work with anyone online but once their work is up and licensed, they are allowed to guard that work within the boundaries of the license. If you have given the consent to anyone for using your work for any purpose you deemed fit with your license.

Digital Rights Management

Digital Rights Management widely known as DRM is a technology solution to the problem of copyright infringement. This helps in protecting artworks being hacked or circumvented.

Duration of Copyright Protection

Copyright laws vary from country to country but then it lasts until 50 years after the person’s death.

Copyright Protection In Other Countries

Designers can enjoy copyright protection for their designs in most of the other countries who are signatories to the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works. It ensures protection of your rights in all countries party like your own country.

Call them laws or tips, the above listed points are genuinely written with the aim to help all you graphic designers get aware of the creative laws and what are its limitations. Obviously one feels really bad when someone steals your work in which a lot of efforts, dedication and time is invested. Taking inspiration is entirely different from copying and using someone else’s work.

Now that you know about these copyright laws, I would personally suggested all you graphic designers to utilize them to their full extent whenever you can. What do you think of these copyright laws? Share your views with us.

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Rajni Setia

Rajni is a Mass Communication Post Graduate who loves reading and talking about new development in the field of technology and designs. Anything related to communication, technology, creative web designs and freelancing tips are her topics of interest.

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