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How to Protect Your Company in a Copyright Lawsuit

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Copyright laws usually bring to mind literature and fine works of art. However, there are cases in which these laws apply to other materials, such as website graphics, photographs, and store signage. In these instances, the most likely parties to be affected by copyright laws are businesses. Here are a few ways in which you can protect your business from copyright lawsuits.

Only use content that’s original

Whenever you create material for the purposes of advertising, whether it be brochures, web pages, brochures, mailers, newsletters, or social media posts, it’s important that it is created in-house. The Copyright Act makes a “work made for hire” provision. This means that the work cannot be considered as copyright infringement. As long as the work is created by one of your employees during the course of their employment your company owns it. For example, if one of your employees writes the text for an advertisement, takes photographs for your company‚Äôs social media, or posts updates to your website, you will automatically be able to claim ownership of this material.

Get permission from the owners of the copyright

Though you could hire someone to create original content for you, this can be quite costly. This is especially the case if you run a small startup. If hiring someone in-house is not an option for you at this time, you could always ask for permission to use someone else’s content.

When approaching the copyright holder it’s a good idea to get their consent in writing. Their written permission, or license, should include the name of the content, how you will be allowed to use it, and how long you can use it. The good news is, in most cases, the copyright holder will not ask for a fee. Instead, many will simply ask that you give them attribution for the content.

Consult legal advice

Creating your own content or asking for permission to use someone else’s can be great ways to avoid a copyright lawsuit. However, if you would like to be extra cautious, you could always hire a legal advisor. There are times in which copyright laws are not always clear-cut. And this means that you need to consult someone who is familiar with these laws. If you are not quite sure whether you can legally use a certain piece of content or have other questions regarding copyright laws, seek the advice of an intellectual property attorney.

Copyright issues can lead to a lot of frustration. But luckily, there are ways in which you can save time, money, and prevent stress. Only use content that you create in-house. Ask for permission before using someone else’s content. Also, seek the legal advice of an intellectual property attorney whenever you are unsure about certain things.

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