Learn How To Check Copyright

Copyright Protection Learn How To Check Copyright

A Quick Guide on How To Check Copyright

If you want to use someone else’s work, you should first get familiar with copyright laws, including the Copyright Act and Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). When you use copyright-protected material without the copyright owner’s permission, you are most likely committing an infringement

Sometimes, you might infringe on someone’s copyright without knowing it. If you want to avoid violating intellectual property laws, learn how to check whether the content you want to use is protected by copyright.

The Essentials of Copyright

You are granted copyright to your creative work the moment you put it in a tangible form. When you own the copyright to a work, it means that you are the only one who can make copies, distribute, display, perform, or make adaptations of it.


You don’t have to publish your content to get the copyright to it. You can copyright various kinds of intellectual property, including:

  • Movies, videos, TV shows, or broadcasts
  • Songs, musical compositions, or voice recordings
  • Photos, paintings, or animation
  • Architectural plans and designs
  • Novels, poems, articles, or screenplays
  • Video games, code scripts, databases, or websites

What you should be aware of is that you can’t copyright facts or ideas. In case you have an idea for a book, you won’t be able to copyright it until you write the book and fix it in a tangible form. Names, symbols, and slogans also don’t fall under copyright protection, but you can mark them as trademarks in some cases. 

Your digital content is under the DMCA protection, but if you want to get some extra protection of any of your creative works, you should register it at the U.S. Copyright Office

Use DoNotPay to learn more about how to copyright and how copyright works.

How Do You Know if Something Has a Copyright?

Whenever you are tempted to use someone else’s work, you should check whether it’s copyrighted to avoid any accusations of infringement. Here are some of the methods you can use to find out whether the content you want to use is protected by copyright:

The Ways To Check for Copyright Explanation

Look for the copyright notice

Authors may state they own the copyright to their work by leaving a written declaration, usually along with the sign ©. You can find the notice:

    • On the last page, title page, or the back of the title page of a book
    • At the end of the credits of a TV show or movie
    • On the cover of a cassette or CD
    • In the descriptions or tags of photos

Find the date of the copyright

Copyright doesn’t last forever. It usually expires 70 years after the author’s death. Check for the date when the copyright started in:

    • The copyright notice
    • The U.S. Copyright Office register

Search the U.S. Copyright Office database

Use the Public Catalog to check for the copyright of any work 

Get the U.S. Copyright Office to search for the copyright for you

This method may save you time on searching, but you will have to pay a fee for the service

Visit the James Madison Memorial Building

If you want to check for the copyright on works published or registered before 1977, you should go to the James Madison Memorial Building in Washington, D.C.

Hire a search company

Private search companies can give you the results much faster than the U.S. Copyright office

How Can You Know a Work Is in the Public Domain?

If the copyright to a work has expired and hasn’t been renewed, anyone can use it. Use this table to get further insights into copyright duration.

Some of the authors may put their work in the public domain immediately by using the Creative Commons website. You should look for the CC0 mark on a work to determine whether the public can use it without any copyright violations.

It may happen that authors give up their copyright and put their works in the public domain. The authors need to do so in writing, so you should check whether the work you want to use contains a written notice that the author renounced his or her copyright. 

Fair Use and Copyright

You might be able to use copyrighted works even if you don’t get the copyright owner’s permission to do so, as long as you do so while honoring fair use. According to the fair use rule, you can include copyrighted work into the content you create if it is for the purpose of:

  1. Teaching or research
  2. Comment or criticism
  3. News reporting

Has Someone Stolen Your Creative Content? File a DMCA Notice via DoNotPay

Seeing that someone has used your copyright-protected work without your permission can be frustrating. It doesn’t only diminish your hard work put into the creation of your content, but it also damages your ability to earn from monetizing your work. If you want to stop the infringer from further misusing your content, you can file a DMCA takedown notice with DoNotPay!

Using our app, you can avoid spending tons of money on hiring a lawyer, and you won’t have to deal with any agents! We make the process of filing the takedown notice fast and easy—all you need to do is:

  1. Log in to DoNotPay in any web browser
  2. Choose the DMCA Takedown option
  3. Provide the name of the work you own the copyright to
  4. Provide the links to your copyright-protected content and to the infringing content
  5. Confirm your contact information
  6. Click on Sign and Submit
  7. Hit the My Disputes tab to see the results

You don’t need to have proof of ownership to file a DMCA notice via DoNotPay.

DoNotPay is the world’s first robot lawyer that can help you solve small legal issues. Our app has given access to legal services to those who can’t always afford them, and this was recognized by the American Bar Association who gave us the Louis M. Brown Award for Legal Access.

DoNotPay Eases Your Pain of Dealing With Bureaucracy

If you want to avoid infringing someone’s copyright on social media, learn how copyright works on Facebook or Instagram. It can also serve you well if you know more about how YouTube’s copyright policy works and how copyright claims can help you when using the platform. 

Do you want to protect your creative work? Use DoNotPay to find out how to copyright a book, poem, recipe, dance, or script, and keep the copycat’s paws off your work!

Have you found a solution to your copyright issues? Don’t stop there—DoNotPay can help you with much more! Access DoNotPay through any web browser and check out what other tasks we can help you with: