So you have started your dream business.
Maybe you are sharing your art with the world. Your painting, photographs, designs, music, or writing. And you’ve maybe had someone pinch an image or your music from the web.
Or someone requests to use your art and you don’t know what they can and can’t do and what you get out of it.

Maybe you are a micro business wanting to make sure you are using content legally.

And that’s normal. Because most people are not taught about copyright and what’s right or wrong. Or they have read stuff online that’s not correct, one of the many copyright myths.

Most people experience overwhelm when it comes to managing copyright in their business.

In this post, I’ll outline a few things you probably don’t know about copyright but you should.

1. It’s copyRIGHT, not copyWRITE.
Copyright means ‘The right to copy’, and its basic premise is to provide incentives for people to create.
It’s a bunch of rights that creators have that allow them to make copies of their original creations that give that creator/s exclusive rights for the use and distribution of their creation and the right to manage how their content is used.

So for example, if I create a great design, I might exhibit it on my website for free download. I might produce t-shirts and a poster and sell them myself through a web shop, or I might licence the design to someone else to sell and receive an upfront fee and/or royalty.

2. Copyright can be owned.
Just like you may own a house, or a car, an iPhone – something of value. These items are a physical property that you own. Copyright is intangible property – property of your mind. It’s part of the Intellectual Property suite of rights that includes trademarks and patents and even plant breeders rights!
So you own all the creative stuff you make and can take advantage of it.

3. You can’t copyright an idea.
Ideas are not able to be copyrighted. Your idea has to be in material form before it can be covered. That means you have to have it written down or drawn or recorded or created.
So if you come up with a fantastic idea and tell someone without it being written down, and they steal it – there isn’t much you can do.
So don’t get so enthusiastic about your new creation that you play someone your new song without writing it down or videoing it or describe your idea for your novel to someone without having an outline.

4. Copyright lasts for a long time.
In many countries, it can be 50 or even 70 years after the death of the creator. That means that your copyrights can last for your lifetime and even into your kids and grandkids lifetime.
Agatha Christie is the creator of Poirot and Miss Marple and best-selling author of all time. She died in 1976; her copyrights were inherited by her daughter and later her grandson. So you need to make sure you put your copyrights in your will.

5. An excellent idea can make you money for a long time.
You can make passive income out of your copyrights. Licenses and royalties can be paid many years after you have created something.
My partner wrote a killer song – you can hear it here – and he is making money from it over 40 years after it was released.

So now you know a bit more about copyright, get creating, save your work and get it out there. You might make enough passive income to leave to your kids.


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