What Common Misconceptions About Copyright Law Do You Encounter?


    What Common Misconceptions About Copyright Law Do You Encounter?

    In the complex world of copyright law, even seasoned professionals encounter misconceptions. We've gathered insights from a diverse group of experts, including a CMO and a Founder, to dispel some common myths. From misunderstanding Canva copyright ownership to the importance of registering online works, here are five clarifications to help you navigate copyright challenges.

    • Misunderstanding Canva Copyright Ownership
    • Ownership Misconception of Digital Content
    • Clarifying Copyright Automatic Protection
    • Credit Does Not Equal Free Use
    • Protect Online Works by Registering

    Misunderstanding Canva Copyright Ownership

    People think they can trademark logos created on platforms like Canva, but if you read the small print, you'll see that's not the case. While you can customize and combine Canva's templates and assets, the platform typically retains rights over the individual elements you've used (graphics, fonts, etc.). This means you don't have the exclusive rights necessary to trademark or fully own the copyright of your final logo design.

    To own the copyright and have the ability to trademark a logo, it's best to work with a professional designer who can create an entirely original work for you, or use only your own original graphics and design elements. Relying solely on third-party assets from platforms like Canva will limit your ownership rights.

    Ricci Masero
    Ricci MaseroEdTech Evangelist & Marketing Manager, Intellek

    Ownership Misconception of Digital Content

    One common misconception about copyright law that I frequently encounter is the belief that once you purchase a piece of software, artwork, or digital content, you have unrestricted rights to use, modify, or distribute it as you please. Many people think that ownership of a copy equates to ownership of the copyright, which isn't the case.

    To address this, I explain that purchasing a product gives you the right to use it, but the copyright holder retains the exclusive rights to reproduce, distribute, perform, display, or license the work. I often use the analogy of buying a book: owning a physical copy doesn't give you the right to make and sell copies of the book.

    For example, we had a client who developed a marketing campaign using an image they found online, assuming it was free to use since it was publicly accessible. We had to explain the importance of verifying the licensing terms and obtaining proper permissions or licenses. This not only protected them from potential legal issues but also ensured that they respected the creator's rights.

    Niclas Schlopsna
    Niclas SchlopsnaManaging Consultant and CEO, spectup

    Clarifying Copyright Automatic Protection

    A common misconception about copyright law is that simply registering a work is necessary to obtain copyright protection. Many believe that without registration, their work isn't protected.

    In reality, copyright protection is automatically granted as soon as an original work is created and fixed in a tangible medium. Registration is not required to hold the copyright, but it provides additional benefits, like the ability to sue for statutory damages and attorney's fees.

    To address this, I educate clients on the basics of copyright law, emphasizing that while registration isn't necessary for protection, it is highly beneficial for enforcing their rights. I guide them through the registration process, highlighting its advantages, especially if they anticipate needing to enforce their rights legally. This approach ensures they understand both their inherent rights and the strategic benefits of registration, equipping them to make informed decisions about their intellectual property.

    Bhavik Sarkhedi
    Bhavik SarkhediCMO, Write Right

    Credit Does Not Equal Free Use

    Many people believe that simply providing credit to the original creator allows one to use their work freely. They think that as long as they attribute the work to its author, they are not violating copyright laws. This misconception often arises in online content creation, such as blog posts, social media, and YouTube videos.

    To address this misconception, it's essential to clarify the principles of copyright law:

    Exclusive rights of the copyright holder: Copyright law grants the creator of an original work exclusive rights to its use and distribution. These rights include reproduction, distribution, performance, display, and the creation of derivative works. Simply giving credit does not grant permission to use the work.

    Permission and licensing: To legally use someone else's copyrighted material, one must obtain permission from the copyright holder, which often involves licensing the work. Licensing agreements can vary in terms and conditions, and they sometimes require a fee.

    Fair use doctrine: In certain circumstances, copyrighted material can be used without permission under the fair use doctrine. However, fair use is a limited and complex exception based on factors such as the purpose of use (e.g., educational, commentary, criticism), the nature of the work, the amount used, and the effect on the market value of the original work. It is not a blanket permission and often requires careful consideration.

    Creative Commons and public domain: Works under Creative Commons licenses may allow for more flexible use, but it's crucial to understand the specific terms of each license. Additionally, works in the public domain are free to use without restriction, but one must verify that the work is indeed in the public domain.

    Marc Bromhall
    Marc BromhallFounder, Chiropractor Hub

    Protect Online Works by Registering

    A common misconception about copyright law that I've encountered is that people believe their creative works, like therapy materials or personal writings, are automatically protected in all situations. In reality, while copyright law does offer automatic protection upon creation, not all works are equally safeguarded, especially when shared online. I ensure my clients understand the importance of explicitly protecting their intellectual property by registering their key works, despite the initial automatic rights.

    I explain that taking this extra step provides a more robust defense against unauthorized use or plagiarism. Protecting one's intellectual contributions is essential, particularly for professionals whose materials might significantly impact their clients' mental health journey. Encouraging them to be proactive in protecting their creative assets has been a part of my practice, ensuring their professional efforts are recognized and respected.

    Kristie Tse
    Kristie TseFounder & Therapist, Uncover Mental Health Counseling