Copyright Matters: Unlocking the Power of Protection for Small Businesses

March 13, 2023

By Julie C. Hancock

Small business has become a popular buzz term for people who want to express at least a base level of care for the local community and its people. What’s true is that small businesses drive our communities, but the same risks that large companies can take and deflect without much concern can often cripple a small business.

Copyright law is a perfect example of such a risk. Misunderstanding and mismanagement of copyrights can crush small businesses. Properly assessing your own assets for copyright purposes while navigating the market without infringing upon another business’ copyright protection is imperative.

The value of holding your own copyright protections and being aware of the competition’s protections cannot be taken for granted for a variety of reasons.

Copyright Protection is Automatic

Some people assume an artist must file an official application in order to secure copyright protection. This is not accurate. The law actually provides immediate and continuous protection for any original work at the moment of creation.

This includes art, photos, designs, computer codes, books, poems, articles, and numerous other content types. Protection extends to works posted on the internet, so if you see something on someone else’s feed and want to use it for your own purposes you must first seek permission.

With that said, copyright registration provides creators with an extra layer of protection against infringers. Infringers can be punished for infringing upon copyrights that have not been registered, but registration allows the owner to file a lawsuit against infringers.

Copyright Protection is a Valuable Asset

Some businesses hold copyrighted assets purely as a means to deter the competition from mimicking their work. What this simple understanding neglects is that holding copyright protection itself is a valuable asset.

A business with an extensive and thorough intellectual property portfolio holds power in its industry. As your business grows, it’s important to continuously audit your own intellectual property practices and ensure you are not missing out on hidden value.

Copyright Infringement Can Cost You Everything

On the flip side of that coin is the value that other businesses will dutifully protect. The liability that comes with violating the terms of another party’s copyright protection can slow all the progress you’ve worked diligently to build.

Assuming a business won’t mind if you use its work for your own gain, even if you are just a small local business or are hardly profiting off of it, would be a damning mistake. Large businesses have a history of pursuing legal action against small businesses and creatives, even if nobody outside of that business owner’s community would be exposed to the infringement.

For corporations, stamping out even the smallest of cases ensures the long-term viability of their brand. Copyright law does not require holders to defend their work in the way that trademarks do, but businesses will remain vigilant in pursuing legal action against small businesses and creatives alike.

The actual costs are defined by federal law and the U.S. Copyright Office and are as follows:

In some cases, the infringer can be held liable for the court costs of the other party, as well.

Copyright Law Provides Ample Opportunity for Collaboration

Businesses that work together can make headway in their industry quickly. While copyright law is strict and harsh for violators, there is plenty of room to collaborate with the use of copyrighted materials.

As noted above, works are automatically protected but other parties can seek permission to use the work. Your business should not be immediately deterred just because another creative has made something profound and attractive.

Seek out those parties who you believe could be worthy collaborators with your business and be open to the possibility of obtaining or issuing licenses to benefit both sides.

Turn to a Copyright Attorney

We understand these are complicated issues to navigate. You can’t be expected to understand every word of the law while trying to build your business. That’s where we come in.

Let Your Virtual Advocate assist you in important copyright matters so you can focus on the creative process and grow something worth protecting.

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