Basics of copyright!

This short article talks about the basics of copyrights and what it doesn’t cover that every designer must know

The difference between routinely taking inspiration from your favorite creator and plagiarizing is a thin line. One of our past article helped to shed light on the difference between imitation and inspiration. Today, we look at the basics of copyright for graphic designers!

What is a copyright?

Copyright is a law that gives the creator the right to say how other people can use it. Copyright laws make it easier for authors to make money by selling their works. It is one part of a group of laws about intellectual property. It helps protect authors from other people copying their works without permission for commercial purposes.

How does it work?

With copyright, a work can only be copied if the creator allows it. If someone copies a work without permission, the owner can say they infringed their copyright and may sue for the amount that should have been paid. In more serious cases, a person who copies a work that is protected under copyright could be arrested, fined or even go to prison. Commonly, the copy-right law will protect the authors and their heirs from 50 to 100 years since the first day of the owner’s death.

How does it work for you?

When you get commission for doing certain work as a graphic designer, you automatically become the author or the creator of the work. When something is your intellectual property, you have the exclusive right to use, alter and profit from it. You also have the right to license your work to others at your discretion. Copyright for the compilation will be separate from copyrights for the content. It includes both layout design, such as a web page, and some individual elements, such as logos, photos, text or illustrations, you will own copyright in the layout and the elements you created

How does it work around the world?

In many countries, the governments tried to modify copyright law to meet international standards. However, there are still some differences, according to the law culture each country. In some countries, someone violating copyright law will be sued only to the civil law courts but other countries they can also be charged by criminal courts.

What You Can’t Copyright

The US Copyright Office states that for something to be protected by this law, it has to be in a tangible form. Your idea can only be copyrighted once you write it down on paper.
Here are the things you can’t copyright:

  • Ideas, Systems, Methods
  • Names, Titles
  • Slogans, Expressions, Short Phrases
  • Symbols, Measuring Charts, Calendars
  • Choreographic Works
  • Letters or Color Variations
  • Commonly Known Information
  • Fashion

These can’t be copyrighted but trademarks can protect these. The difference is that copyright protects literary and artistic works such as videos, music, and books. While a trademark protects logos and other artwork that defines a company brand.


We would like to say that theft of intellectual property is rampant and one must look at the options they have in such a scenario. These points will probably help you to prevent that day altogether.
Thank you and stay tuned for more articles from Up Studio!

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