Copyright law can be tricky. There is a grand idea of finding a balance between the rights of creators and the rights of the public thanks to it. Sounds ideal but the reality is not always that easy and colourful. Find the answer to the most common copyright doubts in terms of image protection and usage.

Are the copyright rules the same all around the world?

Copyright law differs from one country to another. There are some general rules and directives which might be applicable, for example, in the entire European Union but then they might be interpreted differently. Each European Union country has its own legislation system and, consequently, its own copyright law. However, these systems are highly unified and the basic copyright laws are very similar in each member state. It takes a while to get to know all the regulations and there is no need to learn them by heart but it is important to be comfortable with global copyright issues.

What is the difference between a copyright, a patent or a trademark?

Copyright applies to all the works with original authorship. Patents and trademarks work slightly different. Patents protect discoveries and inventions while trademarks are used to guarantee the protection of words, symbols or designs which make certain pieces specific.

How long do copyright licenses last?

In general, the duration of copyright expires at the end of each calendar year. It is very important to keep the track of the licenses and at the beginning of each year check if the works you would like to use for your purposes are in the public domain. The list is being updated always in the first days of January.

What happens when the copyright license expires and is not renewed?

Once the copyright expires and is not renewed, the work ends up in the public domain. There are certain requirements which shall be met in order to classify something under the public domain, for example. You find them all listed in this article. Remember that just because a certain work is in the public domain or under copyright law in the U.S. it does not necessarily mean thatit is going to be the same case in another place on Earth.

I have an idea for a great picture but no time to take it. Can I copyright my thoughts?

Unfortunately, ideas are not tangible and hence they cannot be copyrighted. Until it is expressed in a more tangible form (a picture), it cannot be copyrighted. Once it’s in a raw, jpg or printed format – it automatically becomes a subject of copyright.

Can I use all the works available under the Creative Commons license?

Creative Commons is one of the several public copyright licenses which allows the free distribution of otherwise copyrighted items. However, it is crucial to keep in mind that just because a picture has a Creative Commons license does not mean that it can always be used for free without obtaining any copyright permissions. Keep in mind that there are different labels under Creative Commons, some for commercial and others for non-commercial use. Sometimes a license can still require acknowledgement of the copyright owner. Some would allow modifying the content, others will not. Find some time to understand the license you are using in order to keep the risk of copyright infringement at the lowest level.

Should I register my works in the Copyright Office?

You’d better have your images registered, in case some of them get stolen. In order to get the money from your copyrights back, it is crucial to have proof that certain pictures belong to you. So, you should register your pictures even though it is not necessary. If you want to know the detailed steps of the registration, you will find them all in this article.

What can I do if I spot my photo used online without my consent?

Get in touch with us and we will take the care of your rights and get your money back!

If you want to stay updated on the current copyright news, do not miss out on our articles published regularly on the website. Soon, we will be sharing some more news concerning copyright on our Facebook page in the Copyright Corner. Spread the copyright word around you, help us stop image theft! Got some photographer friends? Let them know that we can help them regain the money they deserve from their copyrights. All they have to do is to register with us for free.

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