Copyrighted Material

Understanding copyright law can be a daunting task. It can be confusing for business owners but the costs of copyright infringement can be quite high. You can be asked to pay a huge fine for using someone’s intellectual property without asking them. There is a heavy penalty for copyright infringement.

You might have great idea and you might want to protect your work and safeguard it. Here are the 7 biggest myths business owners believe about using copyrighted material that can help you plan:

1. I can use small amount of copyrighted material without a problem.

There is no safe percentage or portion of work that can be copied without permission. Using even a few seconds of songs or few lines of text without prior permission can be termed as copyright infringement. And for this the person involved in copyright infringement can be heavily penalized.

2. I can copyright my idea.

Copyright protects original works of authorship in a tangible medium of expression. Books, music, software etc. are capable of protection by a copyright. Ideas are not copyright-able since they are not original works of authorship and are intangible. Descriptions can, however, be copyrighted.

3. Since I’m not making money off the material, it’s fair use.

Fair use is a defense to a claim of copyright infringement. This is a myth that can at times be true but only on case-by-case basis. Parody of a song is an example of fair use. There are certain factors that determine whether or not the use is fair use. The effect of use of copyright on its market is an important factor.

4. I can copyright my business name/logo/slogan.

Trademark and copyright are used interchangeably by many entrepreneurs but they may be wrong in doing so. Trademark is a word, phase or logo that identifies the source of a product or service. It is designed to prevent the customers from being confused as to the source of the service or product.

5. I tried to find the author/photographer, but couldn’t, so I can go ahead and use the work.

There are no possible solutions to this problem and it can be a frustrating problem. It has confused and created tension for many people. There is no guidance or law for this but to use the material, you should be sure to perform a risk/benefit analysis.

6. Someone else posted an infringing image on my website, so I’m not liable.

You might be liable for that. The Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) offers a safe harbor for owners whose websites contain infringed material posted by a third party. They can post DMCA notice on their website and take down procedure on the website’s T&C.

7. The woman in the photo ain’t a celebrity. Therefore, I can use her picture

Wrong. All individuals have a right to publicity and they have the right to protect their name, voice, image whether or not they are famous or not. The law provides statutory damages for violating an individual’s rights for commercial use.

This article has been contributed by Simmi Setia, Content Writer at