When it comes to starting a small business, many may think of trademarks first and how those legal markers protect their business name in more ways than one. But copyrights are equally as important, even if they have some limitations on what they can protect. If you have never had experience with copyrights, then you should know that you can not copyright ideas, even if the expression of them sometimes can be.
Take a look at where copyrights can be applied in your business. All you need to remember is that copyrights protect all your original works of authorship.
Protecting Your Website
This is the most common place where copyrights are going to apply to a small business. And you have plenty to protect on your website. Any writings you post on your website are going to count toward being copyrighted. The same applies to photographs or self-made graphics you post there.
Online photographs have especially been placed under the microscope recently when it comes to copyright laws. Being able to use a photograph online usually has to fall under the concept of either gaining permission or going by the more ambiguous fair use law. If you give your name next to a photograph you use online, then someone else wanting to use it has to contact you to get your approval.
Those same people may be able to skirt the law by using fair use law. In that latter case, someone can legally use a picture for situations like commentary or a scholarly work. This doesn't mean copyrights related to online photographs can't still get complicated. Based on the context of how your pictures are used, you can file a lawsuit against someone for misuse if necessary. That's especially true if your pictures were used in a more than slightly prurient context.
Other Business Aspects Copyrights Can Protect
A copyright can also help protect specific code you use on your website that makes your site unique. You may not be aware HTML code could be copyrighted, but it can. Keep in mind everything you create on your website is automatically copyrighted, which anyone using your work should already know. You're granted automatic protection this way, even though lawsuits can sometimes get complicated if you haven't officially filed for a copyright. A filing will make it definitive and undeniable so no disputes can ever be made.
What it Costs to File Your Copyrights and How Long They Last
If you've ever had any hesitation on filing a copyright for something in your business, you shouldn't. A basic claim is still only $35 for an online filing. Old fashioned paper filings by snail mail are now $65. Through these basic fees, the filing could take up to a year until it's official. Those in a hurry can have it expedited, despite costing you $760 for each claim.
Once you've protected your work for business, it will be good for 95 years from the time it's published or utilized. It's good for 120 years if you go by the year the work is created.
It may not stop there, though, in figuring out what kind of intellectual property needs to be protected through your startup. Visit us here at Traklight where we help small businesses get the protection they need for all types of intellectual property. Contact us and we'll help you identify things in your business you probably never knew should have proper legal protection.