Why Are Copyright Laws Important?

By David Ingram

Copyright protection is a basic pillar of any capitalist society, creating a legal framework that allows and encourages entrepreneurship by extending legal protection to industrious individuals and organizations for proprietary, intangible assets. Understanding the importance of copyright laws can dissuade would-be thieves from attempting to profit from others' creations, and is a must for all businesses using proprietary images, audio works or written materials.


Copyrights protect businesses from being overwhelmed by counterfeit producers and copycat brands. Copyrighted brand images, slogans and songs can allow a company to identify itself strongly and immediately in a variety of marketplace situations. Copyright protection does not last forever, which also encourages competition. According to the U.S. Copyright Office, copyrights for works created after 1978 last until 70 years after the original author's death. This not only allows the original author the sole right to use the work, but it puts the work in the public domain after the original author and his children are finished benefiting from it, allowing future generations of society to profit from the work.


Copyrights encourage people and organizations to create new things by guaranteeing protection for proprietary ideas. Imagine what the textbook industry would be like without copyright protection, as an example. Immediately after publishing a book which took two years to write, authors could lose all profit-making potential after another organization copies the work and releases it for free. In this scenario, authors would hardly have any incentive to write anything. With copyright protection in the picture, on the other hand, creative entrepreneurs can rest assured that they will retain the sole right to profit from their hard work.

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It can be argued that copyright laws create and maintain the concept of branding, which has become an ever-present and vital component of success in virtually any market. If all organizations were allowed to steal the brand identities of others, the very concept of branding could collapse, as customers could never know for certain whether a particular brand image truly represented the original. With copyright protection, on the other hand, companies can work hard to develop their own identities and reputations which cannot legally be smeared by imitators.


Enforcement of exclusive rights under copyright laws is just as important as the granting of those rights. The criminal penalties imposed by the U.S. Department of Justice give teeth to the copyright law in the U.S., and the civil remedies available to copyright holders through the federal court system gives victims the ability to actively defend themselves. Victims' and the government's ability to pursue and penalize copyright violators underpins copyright law's force in society, providing true assurance that proprietary creations will be protected in court.

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How Close Can a Logo Be & Not Be a Copyright Infringement?


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