Copyright law is not often understood by those who do not deal with it as part of their business. But it does affect all of us whether we are aware of its implications or not, especially in these days of online sharing.
Below I've compiled a few facts to help keep you on the safe side of U.S. copyright law.
- All creative works are automatically protected by copyright law as soon as they are put into tangible form (such as paintings, writings, music or other art works). The work does not have to be published or even show a copyright symbol for it to be protected.
- The owner of the copyright is the person who created the artwork unless they signed an agreement to create it as "work for hire".
- A copyrighted work may not be copied by anyone other than the owner of the copyright without the owner's permission.
- Sharing a link to the work online is not considered copying it, so copyrighted work may be safely shared this way, especially if the link is to the copyright owner's site.
- However, with sites like Pinterest, the law is murkier since you are using the image to create a board. Be sure to link back to the original site whenever you pin and, if you are asked to take an image down by the copyright owner, it is wise to comply since they could possibly sue for copyright infringement.
- The copyright extends throughout the owner's lifetime plus 70 years after death.
- Agreements between countries have been established to protect the rights of authors of original work across international borders.