As an artist, one of your biggest fears naturally has to be protecting the integrity and use of your work. These days, the concept of copyrights and control distribution are gray areas for many people. The Internet has drastically changed the way that things like books, songs and other works are distributed - and has made protecting a copyright that much more difficult. In order to protect the things that you create - and to be able to prove your ownership of them - you need to understand your basic rights.
What You Need To Know About Copyright Law
All of the current laws and regulations concerning copyrights in the United States stem from the Copyright Act of 1976. This law went into effect on January 1, 1978, and is handled on the federal level. Individual states may not create their own laws to cover the things that are included within the act.
If you create original plays, books, songs or even video games, you should study up on the Copyright Act of 1976. You should also consult with a copyright law attorney and understand these basic concepts:
- You don't necessarily have to hold a copyright for your works to be considered your own intellectual property. Anything created after April 1, 1989 is protected and copyrighted with or without a notice in the United States.
- People don't have to charge others for your work to violate your copyright. The free distribution of protected materials is still a violation.
- Those who violate a copyright aren't going to be charged criminally, but are liable to be sued in a court of law. You can initiate civil action against those who violate your copyrights.
- Due to the many gray areas that are involved, copyright issues are best handled by a competent attorney who specializes in such cases.