It is not uncommon for me, as a copyWRITER, to receive phone calls from people who are actually seeking information about copyRIGHTS. I explain the difference(s) to them and direct them to the Copyright Office’s home page.
It’s also not uncommon, for those company professionals who do understand the difference between “write” and “right,” to think that they own the rights to use copy for whatever purpose they want. This is not the case and it is my hope to clarify this for you in this issue.
In an article for the former Internet World, Elizabeth Gardner wrote, “If you’ve hired an independent designer to create images for your site, or a writer to provide text, the copyright on their work is automatically theirs, not yours…”
When an independent copywriter writes creative content for your brochure, you only own the right to use that content in that specific brochure. If you use it elsewhere, the writer should be compensated accordingly.
It’s similar to stock photography. If you use a stock photo for a brochure, you pay one price. BUT, if you want to use it for a brochure, a print advertisement, and a Web page, you pay a higher fee for the right to do so.
Published in the Advertising & Marketing Review, the article, “Legal Matters: Registering Your Copyright,” reported that “Copyright is a federal right owned by the author of a work to exclude others from reproducing the work, creating derivative works . . .”
Taking content from a brochure and using it for a Web site, direct mail package, advertisement, falls under the category of “creating derivative works.”
Of course, you may purchase the rights from a graphic designer and/or writer so that you are free to use content or design as you deem appropriate.
Have a comment on copywriting? Please share you comments below because I’d love to hear from you. Have questions about copyrights, visit the U.S. Copyright Office Web site.
Disclaimer: The information herein is provided as a service by Debra Jason and The Write Direction. Neither takes responsibility for delivering legal advice. Please consult legal counsel to obtain answers to any specific questions you have regarding the details of copyright law.