Copyright 101: Use and Compliance in Your Workplace

stamp copyright with red text on whiteWhether you are aware of it, your business probably deals with copyright issues in one manner or another. Copyright is pervasive in business activities, but is your business properly protected? Proper protection entails securing your own copyrights and avoiding infringement upon others’ copyrights. Consider the following best practice suggestions:

Use                                                                                                                                                     

  • Create a copyright use policy that explains how employees, independent contractors, and other related parties should use and protect your copyright.
  • Train your employees and independent contractors to recognize your protected copyrights and proper procedures to protect your copyrights.
  • Have all members sign the policy acknowledging your ownership of the copyright and their understanding of their responsibilities.
  • Create and implement a non-disclosure policy regarding all intellectual property, including copyrights.

Compliance

You may well be held liable for any copyright infringement claims resulting from your employees’ actions. Such claims may cost you $250,000 and 5 years in prison. 18 USC 2319, 3571(b). You may be infringing upon another’s copyright if you play music at work or share online pictures or writings. Your ability to access these materials does not translate to your ability to use these works. Consider the following best practice suggestions:

  • Create and implement a copyright compliance policy that:
    • Explains the definition of a copyright and covered material.
    • Lists examples of common copyright infringement in the workplace.
    • States your policy of honoring copyright.
    • Details consequences of copyright infringement.
    • Details procedural steps to seek legal advice if your staff is uncertain about copyright compliance.
  • Train your staff members to understand their responsibility of avoiding copyright infringement.
  • Have all members sign the policy acknowledging their understanding of responsibilities.
  • Purchase a universal copyright license to prevent any accidental infringement.

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