Do You Understand Copyright Law?

Posted on Friday, August 03, 2018

One of the major challenges facing your business is likely maintaining a website — and at the top of that list is protecting content, along with other published work your company may produced.

As you probably are aware, copying material is a snap on the Internet. The answer to protecting your online material lies in copyright safeguards. Copyright protection exists from the moment a work is created in any tangible medium, but it only protects a specific expression of an idea.

A Copyright Prevents Others From:

Reproducing a work in copies or sound recordings.
Creating spin-off or "derivative" material.
Distributing copies to the public by sale, rental, lease or transfer of ownership.
Performing literary, musical, dramatic and motion picture works.
Displaying copyrighted pictures, graphics or sculptured works.

Copyright Validity

To be valid, a copyrighted work must have some minimal level of originality. In many cases, the author of a copyrighted work is not the owner so it's important for your company to secure its rights.

Let's say you hire a freelancer to write a book about your company. If you don't have a contract stipulating that you own the copyright, the writer probably owns it. Just placing the copyright symbol on the book with your name isn't enough.

A work authored by your employees within the scope of their designated employment is called a "work made for hire." As such, the employer is the author of the work But since copying material is so easy on the Internet not the person who created it. This is also the case with contractually commissioned works.

Length of Copyright 

The term of the copyright is based on the identity of the owner. As a general rule, for works created after Jan. 1, 1978, copyright protection lasts for the life of the author, plus 70 years. For an anonymous work, a pseudonymous work, or a work made for hire, the copyright endures for a term of 95 years from the year of its first publication or a term of 120 years from the year of its creation, whichever expires first.

Copyright holders should place a copyright notice as follows: "© Ajax Corp 2001. All Rights Reserved."

What about putting material you find elsewhere on the Internet on your website? Don't make the mistake of thinking you can copy anything off the Web and use it for free. Even if you give credit to the author, you can still be infringing on the copyright if you don't have permission to use the work. 

Consult with your professional advisors if you have questions.

Posted in Tax And Accounting Topics For Business

Disclaimer: The information contained in Dulin, Ward & DeWald’s blog is provided for general educational purposes only and should not be construed as financial or legal advice on any subject matter. Before taking any action based on this information, we strongly encourage you to consult competent legal, accounting or other professional advice about your specific situation. Questions on blog posts may be submitted to your DWD representative.

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