Are Advertising Brochures Copyrighted?

By Cindy Hill

Copyrights provide legal protection for people who create original works involving design and imagination, like writing, graphics and art images. Copyright protection starts as soon as a creative idea is put into tangible form, such as a sketch or words in a notebook or in a digital file. Federal copyright law defines the rights of copyright holders, including people who create text, image and layout design elements for advertising brochures.

Copyright

Copyright protection gives the creators of original artistic works, including writers, composers and visual artists, the exclusive right to display, sell, replicate and modify those works for a prescribed period of time. For most works created since 1978, the copyright lasts for 70 years after the death of the creator. Works are considered original for purposes of copyright law as long as they display evidence of some creative spark. These rights start as soon as an original creative idea is placed in a fixed form, whether or not that work is published or shown to other people. Copyright registration with the U.S. Copyright Office is not required, but registration helps put the public on notice that the copyright holder is protecting her copyright.

Brochure Content

Advertising brochures often contain both original material protected by copyright, and non-original material obtained from other sources. If you have commissioned a photograph or graphic image for use in an advertising brochure, you do not automatically obtain the copyright for that material. You only receive whatever license or rights to use the material were included in the contract between you and the person who created it. An advertising brochure might also contain informational charts that are considered unoriginal and, therefore, do not qualify for copyright protection. The existence of unoriginal content in the advertising brochure does not negate the copyright protection on all other original material in the brochure.

Protect against infringement by registering a copyright. Get Started Now

Contributors

Advertising brochures are often the product of contributions from many different people. The creator of each piece of original content contained in an advertising brochure -- the photographer, the graphic artist, the text writer -- holds the copyright to the original content he created. The copyright holder can register the copyright on any portion of the advertising brochure that he or she holds the copyright to. If two or more people have collaborated on the development of an advertising brochure, the copyright on the collaborative work will be jointly held by the collaborators as a single copyright.

Work for Hire

Work for hire constitutes an exception to the rule that the creator of an original work holds the copyright. Under U.S. copyright law, work prepared by an employee in the scope of her employment is considered work for hire, and the employer holds the copyright. If an advertising brochure is made by an employee of an advertising company, or by an employee of the company being advertised, the copyright on the brochure is held by that employer -- unless the employer and employee have a work contract that states other terms. If an advertising brochure is created by a person under contract, rather than employment, then the copyright remains with the creator of the brochure, unless she expressly agrees in writing that the brochure is a work for hire.

Protect against infringement by registering a copyright. Get Started Now
Are College Lectures Copyrighted?
 

References

Related articles

Copyright Laws for Playwrights

Copyright laws in the United States encourage the creation of dramatic works by granting exclusive rights to the writer. The Copyright Act of 1976 prevents others from reproducing or distributing copies of a play, or performing it in public, without the playwright’s permission. Copyright lasts for the duration of a playwright’s life plus 70 years. Although copyright exists from the moment any artistic work is written or performed, many authors and playwrights seek additional protection by registering a copy of the work with the U.S. Copyright Office.

Are Commercials Copyrighted?

With the free accessibility of information and creative content over the Internet, it can be hard to know what is legally available to take and enjoy for free. It can be confusing to realize that something that may be free and legal to enjoy in one context may not be in another context. Most people think of commercials as a free bit of advertising that they are subjected to when they watch television or listen to the radio. Just because a commercial is broadcast for free through certain media does not mean that it is legal for anybody to upload the commercial on YouTube or post it for download on a website. Commercials are copyrighted, and only authorized parties may broadcast, copy or distribute them.

Can Therapeutic Techniques Be Copyrighted?

The U.S. Copyright Act of 1976 guarantees the ability of creators to profit from their original work. However, the act restricts the type of material that can be copyrighted. A therapist who develops an original technique may enjoy such protection if she is careful to put her ideas and techniques into a copyrightable form.

Related articles

What Are the Copyright Laws for Images?

Digital cameras and social networking sites have led to an increase in the volume of images across the media. Anyone ...

Comic Copyright Laws

Copyright law protects original works from unlicensed copying or reproduction. The copyright belongs to the creator of ...

Copyright Rules for Freelance Writers

You have written a book about the history of the Moors in Spain or collaborated with other writers on an independent ...

What Is the Meaning of Compilation on Copyright?

U.S. copyright protects original creative work once it is fixed in some tangible form, regardless of whether it is ...

Browse by category
Ready to Begin? GET STARTED