Copyright is a legal term that refers to the exclusive right that an individual or corporation has over original works of authorship. This means that they can take legal action against someone who uses the copyrighted asset for commercial purposes.
Types of Copyrights
Among the most common copyrights, such as music, paintings, and books, but artistic production is certainly not where it ends. Any original work, from maps and computer software to advertisements, can be subject to copyright.
Even buildings can be copyrighted. For example, the Burj Khalifa, also known as the tallest building in the world, is protected by copyright. Therefore, it is illegal to use photos or reproductions of the building for commercial use. You can forget about using that magnificent pic you took on your vacation as a logo for your new business, lest you can be sued for copyright infringement.
Insert copy right symbol?
Economic Benefits from Copyrights
The owner of the copyright is entitled to all future monetary benefits deriving from the copyrighted asset. Nothing that has been copyrighted can be reproduced, depicted, or publicly displayed without the author’s consent. If someone infringes this right, the owner of the right is entitled to take legal action against them.
If the copyright infringement is validated by the courts, the infringer is subject to fines that compensate for the economic damages caused to the author, which in some cases might amount to millions of dollars.
Remember the time you first heard Ice Ice Baby by Vanilla Ice and thought to yourself, “This sounds very familiar”? Well, you were right—the song infringed the copyright of the song Under Pressure by Queen and David Bowie. The result was a textbook case of confirmed copyright infringement, as well as a big hit to Mr. Ice’s finances.
How Much Is It Worth?
There are several ways an intangible asset such as copyright might be valued, but in practice, most methods derive from one of these two approaches:
- Income Approach: assumes that the value of the asset equals its stream of future benefits in the way of income/revenue. In the case of a song, you’d need to estimate the cash that would be derived from streaming, downloads, and reproductions. After adjusting to its present value, that would equal the asset value.
- Market Approach: assumes that the value assigned to a similar asset is a proxy of the asset’s value. Let’s say that artist A produces a country song, copyrights it, and then licenses it to a music label for 3% of revenue generated. Then you produce a song which you are trying to value in order to license it to a different music label, and in the process you find that it’s also classified as country, and that artist A has a similar number of monthly views on YouTube as you. Under this approach, you could argue that the license will be worth 3% of revenue.
How to Get a Copyright? Protecting Your Original Work
Now that you know the importance of copyright, you should consider registering your original work.
In some countries, like Australia, the moment an idea or creative concept is documented (on paper or electronically), it is automatically protected by the copyright act (law) of 1968.
In other jurisdictions, like the U.S., a copyright has to be registered in order to be effective. The entity in charge of keeping this registry is the U.S. Copyright Office (which offers the possibility of online registration).