Protecting Your Creative Works Ross Kimbarovsky | March 20th, 2008

The Internet has changed our lives. It has also made it easier to copy, distribute and profit from someone else’s creativity. Although people know that taking someone’s iPOD without permission is theft, many people forget that taking an article, graphic, logo design, illustration or photograph found on the Internet, without the permission of the author, is also theft. Anyone who creates something and reduces it to a tangible form – whether in the form of an article, picture, graphic, music, lyrics, movie, or something else – is the rightful owner of that intellectual property. The owner of intellectual property has the right to reproduce or permit someone else to reproduce their intellectual property.

How can creatives protect their own intellectual property? There are a number of practical steps that every creative should consider when posting their works on the Internet. Here are five:

1. Place a copyright notice on your work. The laws of most countries protect creative work, even if a copyright notice does not appear on the work. However, it is a good practice to put a copyright notice on your work, where appropriate. A notice lets others know that this is your work. This is easy to do (see the crowdSPRING logo below).


2. Participate in online venues that respect your intellectual property. There are important differences between online sites for creatives. One important difference involves intellectual property. On some sites, creatives may unknowingly give up – often without pay – their intellectual property. In fact, some sites expressly say so in their terms of service or user agreement. It is important for creatives to understand the conditions under which they participate in online marketplaces or on various sites. For example, in paragraph 9 of crowdSPRING’s user agreement (, we clearly state that others are not permitted to take your work without your prior written consent.

3. Protect your intellectual property with legal agreements. Although people will enter into transactions for intellectual property online without a legal agreements, most realize that it is very important to protect intellectual property with a legal agreement. For example, without clear terms specifying, among other things, payment and the rights that a creative would retain to their intellectual property (such as the right to display the work in a portfolio ), such transactions can result in serious disputes. Whenever possible, protect the sale of your intellectual property with a legal agreement.

4. Register your intellectual property, whenever possible. Although it can often be expensive and difficult to register your intellectual property with a copyright office, there are many situations where doing so is highly advisable. We’ll soon have an announcement that should make such registrations much more affordable and accessible to the world.

5. Become familiar with available resources for the protection of intellectual property. There are a number of ways that creatives can further protect their creations. For example, an organization called Creative Commons has established a framework that allows creatives to protect their works by clearly defining the rights that creatives extend to users of those works.

There are many more practical steps, and we will return to this topic from time to time, as it is extremely important to us and to our community of creatives. For now, following just these five steps will greatly improve your ability to protect and profit from your own creations.

From many minds, the perfect design. Post your project today and let the crowd wow you!

  • Anonymous

    Frankly, this is a shallow article on copyright protection. Copyright registration is actually easy – it can be done online, and costs $35 to $40. And it provides substantial extra protection. Also, this article completely skips the mechanism to enforce your copyrights with Google and the other search engines.

Join the crowd that's raving about the crowdSPRING Blog

Get our weekly digest of can't-miss content on how to take your brand to the next level.

Creative needs?

We have 200,000 creative professionals ready to help you with custom logo design, web design, or a new company name. Take your project to the crowd!

Click to get started on

Free eBooks

interviews with graphic and web designers

12 Question Interviews with cS designers.
Get it »

contracts for graphic designers

Contracts for designers who hate contracts.
Get it »

contracts for software and website developers

Contracts for software developers who hate contracts. Get it »

Latest tweets

crowdSPRING @crowdspring
Small Business Spotlight of the Week: Orazure Hand Roasted Coffee
crowdSPRING @crowdspring
Google Rolls Out New Penguin Update to Core Algorithm

About crowdSPRING

Tens of thousands of the world's best and most successful entrepreneurs, businesses, agencies and nonprofits rely on crowdSPRING for affordable and risk-free custom logo design, web design, a new company name or other writing and design services. More than 200,000 designers and writers work on crowdSPRING. We create designs and names people love. 100% guaranteed.

Learn more »
Read previous post:
Ideas on the playing field

“Ultimate better reached by free trade in ideas—that the best test of truth is the power of the thought...