Copyright Infringement and How It Impacts Your Business

Hearing or reading the words “copyright infringement” can leave any business owner fearful, somewhat perplexed and even unsure of how to proceed with the matter on hand. While this is quite a common phrase to come into contact with, it is often thrown around carelessly and that is why so many remain hesitant about whether there are any real consequences for using other’s original work. If you have been served with a notice of copyright infringement, it can be daunting to tackle because of your uncertainty. You may have simply sourced the information for your website content from the internet, the same internet that is accessible to million others – so it is really possible that you even did anything wrong? Especially because so many others may have done so before you?  It can be confusing but it is essential to learn what copyright infringement is and how it affects your business. While this is a complex topic, Real Business will provide a comprehensive guide that can serve as a copyright infringement example for your future use.

For whatever reason, many of us associate copyright with the entertainment industry only. And while this is relevant, it is not only applicable to art or music. Copyright, in essence, protects the original creator, giving them complete exclusivity to their work in every right. They are protected in creating, producing and distributing their own work. Once others violate this right, they can justly face copyright infringement. We answer your most pressing questions on copyrights, infringement and best practice in the business world.

So What Is Copyright and How Can You Infringe On It?

To be quite specific, copyright is intellectual property. And when the creator of intellectual property does not benefit financially from the creation, production and distribution of their own original work – they can claim copyright infringement and hold the other party liable for damages. Copyright fundamentally is protection for the creator and in particular the protection of the economic remuneration of the creation. It allows complete control of how the creation is accessed and can be adapted, revised and even adjusted. Work needn’t be public or even filed for it still holds the same copyright protection. And that’s why almost all original work can be difficult to navigate.

Well Than What Is Copyright Protected?

Almost everything. Even though it may not seem applicable in the business world, it is quite prominent and often a huge problem for businesses. Smartphone applications, software, website content, graphic design and even drawings are all protected. The general exception is that any transfer of intellectual property over the internet has this protection and it’s critical to remember this in your day to day operations.

But How Will Copyrights Protect Me and My Business?

The intellectual property extends farther than you may realize. Your logo, slogans and taglines are all under protection. Your brand itself is intellectual property. Most of what makes your business, YOUR business will benefit from this. Operations, production information, product knowledge all fall under this category.

So Will My Work Always Be Protected?

Well, this is dependent on the intellectual property laws in your country. Generally yes, but it may only be applicable for a period of time. There is also the contentious issue of fair usage. Creations may be deemed fair use if for a number of reasons, and can easily be found in libraries and archives for others to gain from in non-monetary ways.

Can I Then Also Be Liable for Copyright Infringement?

The answer is yes, unfortunately. Deriving inspiration from another’s work and trying to pass off original work as your own are two very different things. In business, originality is key and it’s important to note what copyrights surround work you may have used to source your own inspiration from to create original work for the business. If you utilize a graphic in your branding, that you simply downloaded off the internet – it’s a copyright infringement. Using music in your advertising that does not belong to you – that is copyright infringement. Utilizing another company’s business plan as your own – copyright infringement. As noted before, many original pieces of work can hold copyright protections. The onus is on you as a business owner to identify what can and can’t be used freely.

How Can I Avoid Copyright Infringement?

Because of the fast-paced nature of the internet and today’s world, reproduction and distribution are sped up and this in turn, generally tends to violate numerous copyrights. In order to protect your business from being held liable, it’s important to source information about the copyrights on original work. Approaching any original work with this mindset can help you avoid liability in the future. Research is critical and it’s crucial to question the validity of work available in the public domain.

How Do I Work Around Copyright Violation?

You don’t. Avoidance is key and it’s advised to rather create your own original work than face the possibility of an impending lawsuit.

But What If My Business and Work Have Been Violated?

You do not need to file copyright to have protection but it does benefit your business to do so. You have several legal options you can pursue when you have been informed of copyright infringement involving your original work. The intellectual property holds value and you are entitled to damages if your work has been falsely and illegally been reproduced and distributed, resulting in a loss of income.

There are several significant copyright infringement examples on the internet that can help you understand what are within yours. The best practice is generally to always presume there is a copyright on work that is not the property of your business and to ensure your original work is quite clearly protected. Public domains are good sources of inspiration but if you cannot validate the fair usage authenticity of work, rather assume it is protected and simply use it as inspiration than trying to pass it off as original. Copyright infringement may sound rather complex, but it is based on ethical behaviour and in a manner of speaking – ethical business.

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