By William T. Lasley
Many craftspeople use copyrights to protect their work. What is involved? And more importantly, how much protection does a copyright offer the average crafter?
What types of things does a copyright protect? According to the U.S. Copyright Office, a copyright can be used to protect “original works of authorship that are fixed in a tangible form of expression”. The categories are very broad and, yes, craft designs can be protected by a copyright.
What do you have to do to register a copyright? Actually, when the work is created, it is automatically copyrighted. That’s right, all of your original pieces of work are automatically copyrighted without registering a copyright. However, to offer any real protection, you must register your copyright.
Crafts would fall under the “Visual Arts, Drawings, Photographs, Sculpture, etc.” category.
Once registered, how do you protect your copyright? A copyright itself does not automatically keep someone from stealing your designs any more than a law keeps crime from happening. You must take steps to protect your copyright from infringement. This would involve not only finding people who may be infringing, but also enforcing the copyright through proper channels.
For the average craftsperson, the amount of work involved in detecting infringement and enforcement is not feasible. However, a copyright will deter some people from copying your work. The choice is yours. If you have a piece of work that you fear will be copied, especially if you will be targeting a large market, you may want to consider registration. ***