Copyright can be a scary word for the uninitiated. But it’s not that confusing to grasp the fundamentals of the laws that help protect creative professionals and their work.

As a creative professional, your work is often governed by copyright law.

It’s not exactly a topic that most of your clients will be familiar with, so you need to make a point of having practical expertise. You don’t need a law degree to know the applications of copyright law in your particular niche, though it never hurts to take a class or two in this topic.

For the record, I am not a lawyer. You should certainly talk to a legal professional about the details of your own situation because no one offering advice over the internet is going to be familiar with the nuances of your particular situation. Furthermore, copyright law varies dramatically from country to country.

Here, we will be focusing primarily on U.S.-copyright law. There are similarities in most countries, but make sure you’ve got the details right for your locale. Intellectual property, particularly copyright, can mean big money, so you need to make sure you get it right.

But I can offer you a starting point when it comes to dealing with copyright questions.

The Basics of Copyright

As the creator of a work, you’re entitled to get the financial benefits that go along with what you’ve created. That includes reproducing the work, creating derivative works and displaying the work.

Works can be fairly diverse: an article you’ve written and a website you’ve designed are obvious examples of what can be copyrighted.

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