Copyright law is quite complicated, even by law standards. It has many intricate details that have to be carefully observed, and it is also changing all the time as various new developments occur in the field. There’s a reason big companies spend huge amounts of money to keep their intellectual properties in check, and it’s important to have a good understanding of how copyright law works if it’s going to have any role in your work. And, of course, having a good attorney to keep things in check is going to be a pretty good idea.
Whenever you’re doing any kind of work that involves the transfer of copyrights, you’ll want to make sure that every single point of the deal is documented in writing. This is particularly true if you’re selling creative work. You don’t want to find yourself in a situation where a client of yours claims to have exclusive rights to one of your works, but you’ve already sold it to dozens of others because that was not the implication of the original deal. You can’t work with implications here – make sure that everything is confirmed and signed for.
There’s a common misconception that copyright shares a common trait with trademarks in that the holder of certain rights has to actively defend them if they don’t want to lose them. That’s not quite the case with copyrighted works, and you have more relaxed requirements in this regard. Part of this is because copyright is limited in time in the first place. But, even if you don’t defend yourself against a particular infringement, you’re free to come back and revise it at a later date. In fact, a common strategy in this case involves patiently waiting to see exactly how much the infringing party is going to profit from your work.
Using CC0 assets in your own published work is a minefield that many professionals try to avoid for a reason. It’s only a good idea if you are absolutely sure about the source of the work, and you have written confirmation that the assets carry no copyright (see above). Otherwise, if you’ve just downloaded the assets from a public website, you have no guarantee about their source. They could have been stolen from a popular commercial product, exposing you to huge potential liabilities. And, while you might have a small chance of defending yourself by explaining how the assets were obtained, you can’t really count on that.
There are many reasons to expect that copyright law is going to become an even more complicated field in the coming years. People whose work involves copyright in any capacity should pay attention to the evolution of the laws surrounding it and invest in a proper lawyer to ensure that they have all their bases covered. The potential for mishaps here is too severe to be underestimated, especially considering your potential liability in some cases.
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