Starting a blog can be an exciting event in your life. You already know that you need to write your own content. Everyone learned in school that it is wrong and illegal to copy someone else’s words. However, the laws for copyright and trademarks go beyond simple plagiarism. You might innocently post an image from a Google search, only to find out that it is copyrighted.
One blogger learned this the hard way. You might also find that one of your own photos has been snagged and published somewhere else. Your blog is your brand, and the last thing you want is someone else stealing and posting your content. Read on to learn what you need to know about copyright and trademark law.
What Is Intellectual Property?
The first step is to understand the term intellectual property. This is anything you have created, from blog posts to ideas to photos. It includes all aspects of your own personal creation. You need to protect your content to prevent others from snagging it from your blog.
You can do a few things to protect your intellectual property. First, you should have a policy spelled out on your blog. You can tell people how they are allowed to use your content. If you find it being used in a way that is not permitted, you have protection.
Your intellectual property is the content you create, and you own it. Nobody has the right to take it without your permission. It is easy to share or snag, though, so it is good to have your policy written out.
Copyrights are designed to protect your creative work whether it is published or not. The copyright protects your intellectual property. This includes your videos, photos, podcasts, music, ebooks, artwork, computer programs, and anything else you have created.
Copyright is a legal right, and it gives you, as the creator of your work, the exclusive right to use, reproduce, or distribute your work. Nobody else is allowed to legally profit from your work. By the same token, your ability to use material from other people’s blogs is also limited. You can’t snag photos or copy posts without permission.
Copyright law automatically protects your blog when you publish content. You do not need to register for the copyright to have this protection. However, you need to copyright your work if you want to sue someone for copying or snagging it.
If you want to copyright your blog posts, you can. You can copyright your entire blog, but it will only cover content that was created up to the date of the registration. If you want to copyright future posts, you will have to do it again.
The best way to handle this is to send in copyright registrations at regular intervals, and you can decide what makes the most sense for your blog. You can do it monthly, annually, or any way that is best for you. You can also pick and choose which posts your copyright. Remember that your work is automatically copyrighted, and you only need to do this if you plan to file a lawsuit for copyright infringement.
Trademarks are works, letters, numerals, symbols, or names that are protected by the law. Many bloggers who spend a lot of time developing their content have considered trademarking their blog names, and many have already done it. If you think that your blog has the potential to become a household name (or even just known in some circles), you might want to protect it by trademarking it.
When you trademark your brand, you will have legal ownership of the trademark. This means that nobody else can use it. For example, if you have a fashion blog about high-fashion clothing, you are not allowed to name your blog Chanel because the name is already trademarked.
You will also gain the ability to file a lawsuit against anyone who tries to use your trademark. If your blog is very successful and someone tries to piggyback on your success by taking your name, you will want to put a stop to it. Their use of your name could devalue your brand.
If you want to trademark your blog name, you should first choose how you want to format your trademark. There are three different formats that are typical: a name, a logo, or a sound. If you use all three, you should file applications for all three.
Once you have determined your format, you need to classify it. In this step, you select the goods or services that are covered by your trademark. You should perform a trademark search to make sure that your trademark is available, and remember that the United States is a first-to-use country, so if someone is using your trademark and started using it before you did, they have the first right to it. You can file your application, and you should receive your rights in 13 to 18 months.