Perhaps you are a creative professional who writes, draws or publishes enhanced photography. Maybe you are a business that creates, publishes or purchases unique creative content for marketing or product purposes.
Original works and creative products can attract customers and drive sales. They can give you unique options for merchandise and help develop a strong social media following.
However, other people might attempt to duplicate, republish or plagiarize your idea. Do you have to send paperwork to the United States Copyright Office and pay money to secure a copyright for each original work that you published or own?
You have basic copyright protections from the moment of creation or publication
As soon as an original work is physically viewable or accessible through technological means, it has copyright protection. New creative works benefit from copyright as soon as the photographer shares a new image, or an author publishes a new article.
Others cannot duplicate or distribute your work without permission or for their own profit. You have the right to limit how and when others use your works, with the exception of fair use for purposes like critical review or parody.
In some scenarios, creative professionals and companies may take the additional step of registering a formal copyright. This step can be important if there is a need to enforce copyright protections in the future. However, you do not have to submit any paperwork or pay any fees to have basic copyright protections on your own original works or ask others to stop using or duplicating your creations.
Understanding your intellectual property rights can help you fight back if someone tries to steal or misappropriate your creative works.