It can take years to develop the musical skills or artistic abilities necessary to produce beautiful works of graphic art or a song that people can’t seem to stop singing. It would hardly be worthwhile for creative professionals to pursue their passion in writing, photography, fine art or music if the creations they produced were available for anyone to duplicate or use for profit.
Creative professionals and the businesses that buy the rights to their work can prevent other people or companies from using those original creations without permission. Copyright protection is what allows you to prevent others from using your original works. What steps do you need to take to have copyright protection?
You need to publish your creations or file paperwork
For many creative professionals, formal copyright protection never seems necessary. The United States Copyright Office does grant copyright protectors to individual applicants who submit information about their original creative works for formal protection.
However, businesses and individuals also have informal protection from the moment they publish or release a work to the public. Sharing a photograph or a completed painting on social media would count as publishing as much as having a work included in an anthology. If you have registered your copyright or published the work, you are then in a position to potentially enforce your copyright protection.
You have to notify the other party
The individual or business violating your copyright protection may have to financially compensate you. Especially if they made money off of your creations without your permission, you may have grounds to bring an intellectual property lawsuit against the party infringing on your rights.
To take someone to court, you typically first need to notify them of the copyright violation and your intention to enforce your rights. Sometimes, copyright violations are a mistake or the result of someone not understanding your rights as a creator or a company that owns certain works.
Occasionally, sending a letter can be enough to stop someone from continuing to misuse your copyrighted works. Other times, going to court will be necessary to force the other party into compliance and to potentially secure compensation for the damages caused by their infringement. Learning more about your intellectual property rights will make it easier for you to force those rights and protect your creations if someone else misuses them.