How do I know if I own the copyright in a work?

In general, the person who creates an original work owns the copyright in it. For example, if you create a painting, you likely own the copyright in that painting. Similarly, if you take a photo, you generally own the copyright in that photo.

There may be situations where you might think you have a copyright in a creative work, but you may not. For example:

  • If you appear in a photo or video, that doesn’t necessarily mean you have a copyright in that photo or video. (If you think a photo or video on Instagram might violate your image privacy rights, you can learn more here.)
  • If you take a photograph of a sculpture, that doesn’t mean you have the right to prevent someone else from also taking a photograph of the same sculpture.
  • If you create a work as part of your regular job responsibilities, you might not be the owner of the copyright in that work. Instead, there are circumstances where the law will consider your employer to be the “author” of that work for copyright purposes.

If you’re not sure about the extent of your copyright in an original work, you may want to contact an attorney to advise you on your rights.

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