Artist Education: Understanding the Importance of Copyright Ownership

As an attorney and advocate for the protection of intellectual property, understanding the power of copyright ownership is essential. If you are a songwriter, an artist that draws cartoon images, a dance choreographer, or an independent film maker, you must educate yourself and obtain adequate knowledge of the basics of copyright ownership. Whether you have created one work of art or hundreds of displays of art, they should all be protected.

In the entertainment industry, copyright ownership is king. Copyright, as defined by the United States Library of Congress, is a form of protection provided by the laws of the United States to the authors of "original works of authorship," including literary, dramatic, musical, artistic, and certain other intellectual works. Section 106 of the 1976 Copyright Act generally grants the owner of copyright the exclusive right to execute and to authorize others to engage in the following:

• Reproduce the work in copies or phonorecords;

• Prepare derivative works based upon the work;

• Distribute copies or phonorecords of the work to the public by sale or other transfer of ownership, or by rental, lease, or lending;

• Perform the work publicly, in the case of literary, musical, dramatic, and choreographic works, pantomimes, and motion pictures and other audio visual works;

• Display the work publicly, in the case of literary, musical, dramatic, and choreographic works, pantomimes, and pictorial, graphic, or sculptural works, including the individual images of a motion picture or other audiovisual work; and

• Perform the work publicly (in the case of sound recordings) by means of a digital audio transmission

One may ask, how do the previously mentioned actions apply to an artist? United States copyright law as summarized above proves to be valuable because it protects the original author or content creator from individuals who subsequently encounter the artist's work and attempt to use it and promote it as their own. Simply stated, copyright ownership provides a method for content creators to protect their creations while monetizing from their right to permit others to use, display, perform or distribute the content that the artist originally created.

As a content creator, copyright ownership is important because it can provide a form of residual income for the creator. Copyright ownership of an artist's work, if executed and distributed effectively, can lead to a secure financial future for the artist and his or her family. Thus, it is vital for artists to educate themselves and utilize their resources to assist in protecting the content that they have created.

As an artist, what are the next steps that you plan to take in order to secure your future and leave a legacy in your specific art form? As a content creator, it is your responsibility to take the initiative to determine how you will continue to create beautiful art while excelling, both professionally and financially in your respective industry. Artists, do yourself a favor-- take advantage of the copyright laws that are in place to enable creators of intellectual wealth to financially support themselves while simultaneously providing artists a motive to continue publishing their creations. Making a commitment to take the necessary steps to protect your creative content can be one of the best investments that you will ever make.