Current date:September 25, 2022

What Designers Need to Know About Copyright

Everything you need to know about copyright in one place if you are a designer.

In today’s world, where photographs, logos, design elements are used at every step, the power of all good things is the Internet, where at any time designers can make a mistake at work without delving into protected copyrights.

In fact, we are surrounded by various directives, many of us do not realize that we can get burned anywhere and anytime by misappropriating something. For example, in the United States, you don’t even need to register your works and even a simple created art or product is already protected by various rights, so let’s take a closer look at those not-so-pleasant things and we’ll help you avoid unforeseen situations, because at every step you need to be interested and act after thinking a lot.

It doesn’t matter if it is stolen, copied or pirated one of another’s work, you can already become a potential infringer of protected rights.

Disclaimer: The following is not legal advice. I am not a lawyer and not qualified to give legal advice, these are general facts about the law, which is ever evolving. For dealing with any legal matters, or legal advice, please contact an attorney.

What Is Copyright?

Copyright is a legal term describing ownership of control of the rights to the use and distribution of certain works of creative expression, including pictures, video, computer programs, visual works, branding materials and etc.

The copyright protect original creative work from unauthorized copying, adapting, or publishing. If you have no idea, then you must understand that protected items you can’t copy, distribute, publish, display, and or sell.

Sometimes it is not easy to know if a work is copyrighted, then you have to be very careful when using them, creating your own designs and using any design elements created by others.

What Does a Copyright Protect?

Copyright protects literary, dramatic, musical, and artistic works, including:

  • Poetry;
  • Novels;
  • Any other forms of original writing;
  • Art;
  • Research;
  • Songs;
  • Audio and video meterials;
  • Photographs;
  • Computer software;
  • Architecture.

On the other hand the works that are not available in some tangible form such as a speech that wasn’t written down or recorded, cannot be copyrighted.

What Are the Exceptions to Copyright?

  • Product names;
  • Titles of works, such as book titles;
  • Names of businesses and organizations;
  • Pseudonyms, including computer hacker nyms;
  • Slogans, catchphrases, mottos and short advertising phrases; and
  • Lists of ingredients, such as on product labels or as used in recipes.

Some things on this list, such as product names, may be afforded protection under trademark law.

What Is The Difference Between Copyright and Trademark?

Trademarks are used by companies for recognition. Trademark and copyright are forms of intellectual property that can be defined as intangible assets, in other words, creations of the mind such as inventions, literary and artistic works, designs, symbols, names and images used in commerce.

Copyright deals with any original work, not just a company’s symbol.

Owner of Copyright Work

As a designer, you can also protect your work with copyrights, which will protect your intellectual property. You can set your work “free for commercial use”, then others would be enabled to copy and use your work for future designs, but if you have set your work “free for personal use” or with protection against copying by others, then you can submit a statement to the person who use your designs to create their own or even sell them to others.

However, if the designer is employed by a company and specifically designs something for the employer, the company typically owns the copyright.

Fair use, known in some other international jurisdictions as fair dealing, is the judicial doctrine that permits the use of copyrighted materials when the purpose serves the public interest.

How to Register?

As we mention earlier in United States you don’t need to register your work to enjoy the protection of copyright. However, there are some very serious benefits to registering any valuable, unique, or original work with the US copyright office.

There are many precautions you can take to make sure potential copyright infringers don’t use your work without permission.

  • Properly Marking: You can make sure your work is properly marked, such as watermarked, and that there’s a clear evolutionary footprint from the work to your business.
  • Creative Commons: A creative commons license is a license issued by the copyright owner to allow anyone in the world to use his or her copyright work in any manner consistent with that license.
  • A copyright symbol: At a minimum, you can use the © symbol to indicate a copyrighted work.

Although it’s not required, but if you decide to actually register your work with the U.S. Copyright Office. To do so, you’ll have to complete the application process – which includes paying a fee and sending a copy of the work to the U.S. Copyright Office – in order to officially register for your copyright.

Completing this process will add your copyright to the public record, and you’ll receive a certificate of registration.


So, in effect, no one ever needs to register their intellectual property. In practice however, it makes real fiscal sense, along with granting peace of mind. And all your legal issues you need to work by your own as I’m not a lawyer. If you have any legal questions I would urge you to seek legal counsel.

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