How To Copyright Artwork


Social networks are one of the popular places where people can share their creativity. However, after that, you most likely face a particular problem - copyright infringement in art. Usually, people with artwork protect themselves with copyright so that their art does not pass into someone else's hands. 

The intellectual property includes everything created by the artwork of a person: literary works, music, paintings, computer games, and much more. That is, when you distribute your work of art, someone can easily use it or even steal it. If someone wants to steal your work, they will have to deal with copyright laws for art. To avoid such situations, you need to register the copyright, after which you will be sure that you have full control and ownership over your creativity. This way, copyright is granted so that you do not face intellectual property theft in the future and can prove that it is your work of art. 

When Does Copyright Protection Begin?

When Does Copyright Protection Begin

Copyright laws for art state that copyright protection begins exactly at that moment when the work is created. If you do not know how to copyright artwork, you should register it immediately after its creation. To obtain copyright protection, you do not need to register it in the state register and wait for a decision. The artistic work just needs to be attached to the material object immediately after its creation.But if the author grants the rights to society or another person, it removes the copyright protection from the author. Moreover, copyright is valid for the author's lifetime and seventy years after death. Although the copyright is automatically granted to you after the release of your intellectual property, it is better to register it. It gives you a preferable chance to prove that it is your property. 

Types of Artworks that Can Be Copyrighted

Types of Artworks that Can Be Copyrighted

If anything in the artwork is copied, it is not an original work. Your work of art must be original and creative to help protect your intellectual property. But what exactly does copyright protect? Here are some categories:

  • Paintings
    It includes paintings by artists.
  • Books and literary poems
    These include poems, collections, short stories, volumes, simple stories, encyclopedias, and recipe books. Anything that is written by yourself.
  • Choreographic works
    It can be any kind of dance. But to give its copyright, you need to record this choreography on video.
  • Musical works
    These are the words of music, the melody of music. It can also be the creation of one's own work on various musical instruments.
  • Movies
    It includes serials, mini skits, cartoons, and TV programs.
  • Architectural works
    It can include the building, its design, or its photo. Usually, people rarely do it, and it isn't easy to obtain a copyright for it.
  • Graphic works
    It includes maps, sketches, topographic maps, and globes.

The most popular type of art is visual art. It is created in the form of pictures, drawings, paintings, sculptures, and photographs. Illustrations used to be a prevalent form of art (as they are now), and everyone established copyright. Therefore, it belongs to a separate category, and you can set visual art copyright laws on it because it is your own art.

These are the main artworks that can be protected. It can also include computer games, but not everyone agrees that this should be protected by copyright. But if you think about it, creating your own game is also intellectual property. Right? It was made personally and may be used by others. It's why copyright is also established in most computer games.

Why Should You Register Your Copyright?

Why Should You Register Your Copyright

You already know that copyright automatically begins from the moment of the creation of your artistic work. But why should you register it, and what does copyright protect? The fact is that documenting your work gives you more preferences that can really help you. These are such advantages as:

  1. Ability to report copyright infringement
    It means that you can file an application to the court for the usage or infringement of copyright. Then you don't have to prove that it's really your work because it's already registered. And without registration, you will need to prove that it is yours, and there is no great chance you will win the court because that is much more difficult to do without a copyright registration.
  2. Confirmation of authenticity
    Imagine that someone used it three years after the release of your artwork, and you need to sue the offender. And it is where your artwork registration comes into play, which is valid throughout your life. It means that even after ten or twenty years, you can prove that it is your work of art.
  3. Right to compensation
    A person is brought to court and forced to pay you compensation in case of copyright infringement in art. Its amount depends on the decision of the judges who will do it on the basis of the committed infringement.
  4. Making a copy of your work
    When you register, you must provide a copy of your work in a specific format. And if your original work of art is suddenly damaged or someone has stolen it, you can go back to where it was registered. That's, copyright laws for art provide protection not only for your original work but also for copies.

You can understand that this is done for legal assistance in case of copyright infringement.
No one has the right to use your own work. Registration gives you full ownership of your artwork and the ability to prevent others from using your content. But if you decide that certain people can use your intellectual property, you don't really need registration. 

How to Copyright Artwork?

How to Copyright Artwork

To fully confirm your intellectual property ownership, you must go through the registration process. It does not last long, but waiting for the confirmation will take about one month. Before registering, you should familiarize yourself with the copyright laws for art and agree to what copyright protects.

Before submitting an application for registration, you have to make sure that your work is original and does not contain copied elements. Also, this work must be saved in digital form or photo format.

So, how to copyright artwork:

Step What to do
1. Mark your work with a name It does not matter whether it will be your name or a pseudonym. You must confirm your work and be sure to sign it. Even if your content is stolen, it will be marked with your name, proving that you are the real author of your artwork.
2. Register your work

We have already mentioned the benefits of registration above. If your application is approved, you have to get a registration certificate. After receiving it, you have all the advantages. By the way, If you lose your certificate, you can find it online in an electronic version.

3. Save your artwork in the digital records If suddenly someone claims that your work is not yours, you can provide saved digital records of your intellectual property. In this case, no one will be able to use your work and publish it because you will have proof. For example, if someone used your virtual arts, you can show your records according to copyright laws, and you must be compensated for the intentional use of your work.
4. Pay the filing fee

You need to pay a filing fee to be entered into the registry base and to have your copyright decision approved. It is usually not expensive.

So, you should provide as much information as possible about yourself and your work of art because you may be denied copyright registration. You will not be granted copyright if you do not have enough evidence or your work contains something copied. Any copied element is already a violation of one's own work and theft of another author's work. So, you need to be careful with this.

As you can see, the process is really fast. But one more thing you should know is that the previous copyright will not apply if you create another artwork. You need to register again and get separate copyright for new artwork. 

Also, you need to know how to copyright artwork and what documents are needed for this:

  1. A statement that you want to obtain a copyright and are the author of your original work.
  2. Create your artwork in material form.
  3. A document indicating the date of creation and publication of your artwork
  4. A receipt that you have paid the filing fee.

 Each type of art requires different documents, be sure not to forget your identity documents. And also additional documents that you will be instructed to bring in advance.

What Is Copyright Infringement?

What Is Copyright Infringement

In case of copyright infringement, the person is administratively responsible and must pay you a certain amount as compensation. The infringements include:

  1. Usage of the artwork without the permission of the author
  2. Placing someone else's photos on a website without permission
  3. Publishing and exporting the work abroad and using it there
  4. Plagiarism of the work and its use under one's own name 
  5. Video recording in the cinema
  6. Using other people's creations from social networks
  7. Illegal downloading of music and choreography
  8. Spreading and publication of copies of the original work
  9. Saving photographed artworks for future usage

It is exactly what copyright protects from. If you have become a victim or a witness of copyright infringement, you should contact a lawyer. But if you have an artwork and don't want it to end up in the hands of others, go back to the "how to copyright artwork" section and follow it step by step. In fact, it is very important because plagiarism happens quite often, and then people have problems with it. Someone asks, "what does copyright protect?" and does not pay attention to this protection variant. Believe it or not, it solves a lot of things. Social networks are a wide platform where content is distributed every day, and every time there will be people who can copy it or appropriate it for themselves. It is quite easy to copy someone else's content as your own, and people do this quite often on the Internet. Someone can use your own music or work and pass it off as their own. And without copyright, it will be difficult for you to prove that it is yours. Therefore, you can be helped by copyright, which protects you from such situations.


Should I put a watermark on my art?

It doesn't matter how you publish your work because copyright artwork has all the same protections with or without a watermark. It depends only on you. 

Can you sue someone for copying your art?

If your work is not registered, you cannot sue a person because there is no confirmation that it is your work. But if you're registered, you can do it. In such a way, the opponent will be brought to administrative responsibility.

In what way does copyright protect?

Copyright protects all creative works that a person has made independently. It can be literature, music, paintings, or dramatic productions. All this is protected by law and registered to confirm the existence of the original.

Can I sell a painting I copied?

No, unless you have permission from the owner to use his painting, you cannot do it. It's also impossible to publish the original photo anywhere because these actions are illegal.

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