How to Prevent Others From Infringing on Your Copyright

By Cindy Hill

Copyright is the scheme of legal protection for people who develop original creative works including art, literature, film, architecture and software. Copyright attaches the moment an original creative work is fixed into a tangible medium, like a sketch or a digital file. Enforcement of copyright against infringement by others is primarily up to copyright holders, who must carefully protect their copyrighted works through notices, registration and, if necessary, civil lawsuits.


A copyright holder has the exclusive right to reproduce, distribute, perform and display original work and use derivative works, such as in sequels or product merchandising. Anyone who engages in any use of the work without the copyright holder's permission is usually committing a copyright infringement. A few narrow instances in which use of a copyrighted work without the copyright holder's permission may not constitute infringement include a legitimate fair use, such as quoting a small portion of a work for purposes of literary or academic criticism. Purchasing a compulsory license to record a cover song is another means of using a copyrighted work without constituting infringement.

Notice and Registration

Placing a copyright notice on your work is no longer required by law, but it still makes good common sense. The best way to prevent copyright infringement is to make sure that anyone viewing your work knows it is copyright protected and can readily identify the copyright holder. The clearest, traditional means of placing the world on notice of your copyright is to mark your copyrighted works with the letter C inside a circle, followed by the year of first publication of the work and the name of the copyright holder. Although registering your copyright with the U.S. Copyright Office is not mandatory, doing so helps to notify potential infringers of your rights as a copyright holder. Registered copyrights are listed in a searchable national database, which can be used both to determine if something is protected by copyright and to find the copyright holder in order to buy a license or negotiate terms for lawful use.

Protect against infringement by registering a copyright. Get Started Now

Cease and Desist

The first step in preventing copyright infringement is to ask the person who is using your protected work to stop doing so. Send the infringer a cease and desist letter to let that person know you are the copyright holder; you intend to protect your copyright; you are aware of the use of your copyrighted work; and you do not approve of that use. You can include a request for compensation in the cease and desist letter. Once you send the cease and desist letter, you can often negotiate an amicable agreement for use of the copyrighted work.


If you cannot reach an amicable settlement with someone who wants to use your copyrighted work, you may have to bring a copyright enforcement lawsuit in federal court. To do so, you must register your copyright with the U.S. Copyright Office. Registration permits the copyright holder to seek additional damages, as well as attorney's fees and costs of bringing the copyright enforcement suit. The advantages of registration make it more effective to protect your copyright from infringement with enforcement litigation, if necessary.

Protect against infringement by registering a copyright. Get Started Now
How to Copyright my Sermon


Related articles

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

Federal copyright law protects original works of art and design used commercially, such as logos. If the copyright is registered with the U.S. Copyright Office, anyone who violates the copyright by using it without permission can be subject to a lawsuit, as well as fines and damages. There are several conditions that determine whether a new but similar design violates a copyrighted logo.

How to Copyright a Webpage

Your webpage is technically copyrighted as soon as it is placed in a tangible medium such as the Internet. In order to further protect your website you should consider registering for a formal copyright so that you will have the ability to sue any third parties that might misuse your materials. Copyrighting your webpage is not a difficult task, but copyright protection will only extend to certain aspects of your webpage, such as writings, artwork and photographs. A copyright will not protect your domain name, any functional aspects of your website, or any elements of your website that are common or otherwise part of the public domain.

How to Copyright Original Artwork

If you've created a work of art, you legally hold the copyright in that work. If you want greater protection of your rights, however, you need to take a further step: registration. This puts your work "on record" as your property, and allows you an important advantage if you want to file a claim against anyone who uses your art without permission.

Related articles

What Is Copyright Infraction?

With easily copied material available on the Internet, the likelihood of copyright infraction has increased. Copyright ...

How to Add Content to a Blog Without Copyright Infringement

When you start a blog, you want to add content as soon as possible and keep adding content on a regular basis. If you ...

How to Pursue Copyright Infringement

When someone copies your original work, such as a book or a song, without your permission, that individual has ...

How to Copyright Sewing Patterns

If you want to protecting sewing patterns, it's complicated. Because copyright is all about protecting expression, it ...

Browse by category
Ready to Begin? GET STARTED