Copyright protects your original work. Remember, intellectual property protects the expression of an idea. That expression must be in a form.

This free legal information is made available courtesy of Counsel to Creativity.

In the words of the Copyright Act, copyright protects the follow forms of original work:

(1) literary works;
(2) musical works, including any accompanying words;
(3) dramatic works, including any accompanying music;
(4) pantomimes and choreographic works;
(5) pictorial, graphic, and sculptural works;
(6) motion pictures and other audiovisual works;
(7) sound recordings; and
(8) architectural works.

Alright, but what does that really mean in your business?

Copyrightable work might show up in your business as a book, a blog, a website, a video, an audio, music, program materials, software code, architectural plans, an illustration, graphics, a photograph, marketing materials, dance, artwork, knitting or sewing patterns, jewelry, or a screenplay.

They key about copyright is that it’s the form you put the expression of your ideas in that can be covered by copyright.  Copyright does NOT protect: an idea, a procedure, a process, a system, a method of operation, a concept, a principle, or a discovery.

So what does it mean to have a copyright?

The compound word “copyright” is actually is the word “copy” and the word “right.” Really, it’s literally the right to copy. And that is the most basic thing that a copyright gives you: the exclusive right to copy a particular expression of your idea.

The thing to get your mind around about copyright is that it is a set of property rights. To go back to our jar of markers analogy, the copyright is our jar of markers where each marker is a single right to the original work. When you own the copyright, you own the jar and all the markers in it. All those property rights are yours and only yours.

Copyright is a great place to start with understanding this idea that a single piece of work is actually a set of rights to that work because the law sets out all those rights for us. There are 6 of them:

You can reproduce the work—thus the copy-right.

You can distribute the work.

You can perform the work publicly.

You can display the work.

You can transmit it digitally by video or audio.

And lastly, you can create derivative works. Derivative works are works that are based upon the original work. A great example of a derivative work is a book that becomes a movie that becomes an action figure that becomes a set of t-shirts. Those are all derivative works.

You and only you have all these rights in your original work. No one else can do any of these things with your original work. You can, if you choose, give the right to distribute to someone else by an agreement called a license. Because a copyright is a set of rights, you can take each one of those rights and use it in a different way. You can retain all of these rights yourself or you can parcel them out however you’d like.

So, you can begin to see how really powerful this is. You can own things that you can splice up this way to use in many different ways and grant certain rights to other people for which you then can ask for a licensing fee. Built into copyright is the idea of multiple income streams.

In the comments, let me know what one aha! you had about copyright.  I’d love to hear.

And be sure to click here to get your Free Business Law Mind Map to see how copyright relates to the rest of your business’s legal needs and be notified when my first DIY product—which will tell you what you need to know about copyright and give you the tools you need to identify the copyrightable work in your business—launches in July.

Identify what you need to know about law for your business with my Free Mind Map.

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flower_icon_04Looking to change your business to better suit your life? Rebecca Prien also provides business coaching and business model design services through Ompreneur | The Yoga of Entrepreneurship.