Learn How To Copyright a Design and Protect Your Work
Have you finally finished designing a new and unique t-shirt or shoes? Have you made a distinctive piece of jewelry? Make sure you save your designs from copycats.
Copyright and How It Functions
Copyright laws, such as the Copyright Act or Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), protect the original content you create. When you own the copyright to some work, you have the exclusive right to:
- Make copies of the work
- Distribute, sell, lend, or rent the work
- Perform or display the work publicly
- Make adaptations or derivatives of the work
If someone does these actions without your permission, that person is infringing on your copyrights.
Copyright protects various kinds of creative content:
- Songs, music, or choreographies
- Books, characters, scripts, or poems
- Images and paintings
- Blogs, video games, or computer programs
- Different kinds of design
You should also keep in mind that you can’t copyright facts or ideas. You can only copyright the original expression of your idea. If you designed something for the company you work for, your employer is most probably the one who has copyright to your design.
Copyright and Design
Copyright laws protect various types of design, including toys, prints, posters, sculptures, fabric design, technical drawings, architectural work, or jewelry designs.
Logos or symbols can’t be copyrighted. Trademarks usually protect logos, but if your logo is a unique piece of work, it can also get copyright protection. You also can’t get the copyright to:
- Color—if your design contains a color or mix of colors you want to protect, you probably won’t be able to do it
- Cut—if you design a work with specific cuts and put different cuts together, you won’t be granted the copyright to it
How To Get Copyright to a Design From Your Designer
Paying for a design you ordered is not enough to get the copyright to it. What you need to do is to make a contract and get a legal transfer of copyright. It’s best to agree with the designer on copyright ownership before the beginning of the project to avoid any disagreements.
Why Should You Register Your Work for Copyright?
Once you create an original design and fix it in a tangible form, you automatically get the copyright to it. Keep in mind that others might not be aware that your work is copyrighted if you don’t mark it as such. In case you want to emphasize that you are the copyright owner of your design, you should write a copyright notice.
The fact that you automatically own the copyright to your creative content and that you have a copyright notice on it won’t be enough to file a lawsuit against copycats. If you want to be able to sue someone for copyright infringement, you should register your work at the U.S. Copyright Office.
Having your design registered for copyright can also be helpful because you can gain the statutory damages and get your attorney’s fees covered in case you win the copyright infringement lawsuit.
How To Register Your Work at the U.S. Copyright Office
If you want to get the full protection of your copyright, register your work. You have two ways of doing it:
Putting your design into a tangible form to send it might be tricky. What you can do is draw it on paper or put it in a digital form along with a detailed description of its elements. In case you submit your registration online, the Office might ask you to send them a hard copy of your work.
It usually takes from a couple of months to more than a year for the U.S. Copyright Office to register your work, but your copyright starts on the date you made the application. Copyright lasts during your lifetime plus 70 years after your death. In case you submit your registration anonymously or under a pseudonym, the copyright protection might:
- Start on the day when the work was first published and last up to 95 years
- Begin on the day when you created the work and last up to 120 years
File a DMCA Notice via DoNotPay Fast and Easy
You don’t have to sue the infringer—if you notice that someone has stolen your design, you can rely on the DMCA protection and file a takedown notice! The easiest way to do it is with the world’s first robot lawyer—DoNotPay!
Our app allows you to file a DMCA notice in a matter of minutes, without the need for any proof of ownership. All you need to do is:
- Log in to DoNotPay in any web browser
- Select DMCA Takedown
- Enter the name of your copyrighted content
- Give us the links to your original work and to the content that infringes on your copyright
- Verify your information
- Hit Sign and Submit
- Go to the My Disputes tab to see the results
DoNotPay has already helped a lot of people solve their small legal issues and got the Louis M. Brown Award for Legal Access from the American Bar Association. Don’t hesitate and get our assistance in dealing with copyright infringement!
What To Consider Before Filing a Copyright Infringement Notice
When you see that someone took your copyright-protected work without your permission, examine their purpose. If someone uses copyrighted material for teaching, research, criticism, comment, or news reporting, they might not be committing copyright infringement since it falls under the domain of fair use.
DoNotPay Can Assist You With Much More
Are you interested to learn more about copyright? Use DoNotPay to get more information about the history of copyright law in the U.S.
With our app, you can also find out what copyright infringement penalties are.
Do you have other issues besides copyright? DoNotPay can give you a hand with a bunch of other tasks, such as signing up for free trials, canceling services, and getting refunds! Use any web browser to access DoNotPay, and get our assistance in:
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- Protecting your work from copycats
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