20 Copyright Dos and Don’ts Under Copyright Law

Copyright guides intellectual property and protects people’s works. This gives authors control over the distribution of their content. 

Whether you are a creator, business owner, or publisher, it is highly recommended to understand copyright dos and don’ts as this comes in handy when crafting your online content. 

In this article, I will cover copyright dos and don’ts that can enable you to make the best decisions in your creative endeavors.

  • Understanding the dos under copyright law helps you seek permission, credit owners, and utilize works legally, safeguarding you from potential legal issues and infringement.
  • Keeping records of permissions, registering your work, and comprehending the fundamental aspects of copyright are important steps to enforcing your rights and enjoying legal benefits.
  • To avoid copyright infringement you should respond to takedown notices, respect licenses, and refrain from reproducing private materials. 

10 Dos Under Copyright Law

An infographic divided into 2 sections, each aims to provide a list of 10 dos and don'ts under copyright law.

By understanding the dos under copyright law, you can comply with legal standards. It also keeps you away from certain issues. So, let’s talk about them in detail:

1. Do Ask for Permission

Always ask for permission from the copyright holder. Do this before sharing or reproducing their work. Whether it is for commercial use or not, make sure to seek the owner’s consent.

2. Do Credit Properly

If you are granted permission to use a copyrighted work, credit the owner accordingly. Legally, you are required to do so. It is also an opportunity to appreciate the owner’s creative work.

3. Do Utilize Works in the Public Domain

You are free to use works in the public domain as they are not protected by copyright. However, always do the necessary research on the material to be sure it is in the public domain.

PRO TIP: Works in the public domain are usually federal government documents and materials without copyright notice released before 1923 and 1977.

4. Do Utilize Facts and Ideas

You are allowed to use facts and ideas obtained from websites. The documents may be protected by copyright law but not the facts. 

5. Do Register Your Work

Consider registering your work with the right authorities. Doing so not only gives you the power to enforce your rights but offers several legal benefits. 

6. Do Keep Records of Permissions

If you seek permission from a creator to use their work, make sure to keep a record of the agreement. This document can be helpful in the future if any issue comes up.

7. Do Understand the Important Aspect of Copyright

Learn the basics of copyright. This may include the power of the copyright holder and how long the copyright lasts.  

8. Do Utilize Copyright Notices

It is always a good idea to include the copyright notice in your work. This keeps people informed about your rights, preventing them from breaking the law. Using copyright notices is not usually required but it is best to utilize it. 

9. Do Use Quotes

According to the copyright act, you can use short quotations as this is considered “fair use.” However, the quote should be in a small portion of the work.

10. Do Use Creative Commons Works

Check for works shared under Creative Commons licenses as you can use them with the proper attribution. But always adhere to the terms provided in the license. 

10 Don’ts Under Copyright Law

To avoid copyright infringement, there are certain things you shouldn’t do. Understanding these don’ts under copyright law keeps you out of trouble. Let’s take a look at them:

1. Don’t Assume Every Work Online is Public Domain

You cannot use every content as you wish because it is online. Yes, it is in a public space but that doesn’t mean you are free to use it. Before using any material online, make sure to check for copyright information.

2. Don’t Assume Crediting the Owner Means No Copyright Infringement

You can still be violating the copyright law even after crediting the owner of a material. Do not use a copyrighted work without permission from the owner. 

3. Don’t Assume Deleting Copyrighted Material Keeps You Out of Trouble

You may think that deleting copyrighted material makes you free from the penalties. Unfortunately, you are wrong. The author can still take legal action against you even after you have taken the content down.

4. Don’t Depend Only on Disclaimers

Including a disclaimer that states you aren’t the owner of copyrighted material doesn’t mean there’s no infringement. 

5. Don’t Copy a Material Without Copyright Message

If you notice a work does not have a copyright message, do proper research before using the content. The law has changed. Therefore, every published work has copyright protection.

6. Don’t Overlook Takedown Notices

Make sure to respond to take-down notices for alleged copyright infringement. Delete the content as soon as possible. Don’t ignore such notices.

7. Don’t Reproduce Private Materials

You can be penalized for reproducing private and confidential work without authorization. The consequences are more than copyright infringement.

8. Don’t Ignore Creative Commons Licenses

Before using works under a Creative Common license, make sure to carefully read the terms provided. Note that Creative Common licenses have different conditions.

9. Don’t Copy Material Even for Non-commercial Use

Bear in mind that you are still infringing the law even though you aren’t using copyrighted material for commercial use. 

10. Don’t Assume Fair Use Excludes You From All Legal Actions

You can still be penalized despite being convinced your use is under fair use. Fair use can be a defense only if you follow the law.

Frequently Asked Questions

What can copyright owners do?

Copyright owners can control the distribution and reproduction of their work. Also, they have the right to recreate their work based on the original.

What are the 3 copyright laws?

Copyright law includes exclusive rights to authors, limited duration copyright protection, and provision for fair use when necessary.

What 6 things are not protected by copyright?

Copyright does not protect data, characters, ideas, factual information, themes, or slogans.

What are the rules around copyright?

The rules around copyright state that authors have power over their work and no one is authorized to reproduce or distribute it without permission.

What are the 6 exclusive rights of a copyright holder?

The rights of a copyright holder include reproduction, public performance, distribution, public display, digital transmission, and production of derivative works.

Rae Marie Manar
Rae Marie Manar is a licensed lawyer with a Juris Doctor degree, specializing in copyright, data privacy, and intellectual law. With a wealth of education and expertise, she aids clients in going through the intricacies of these laws, guiding them through the legalities, processes, and requirements tailored to their personal and business needs.