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Understand copyrights and licenses for your creative works

Your intellectual property isn't something that you will want to give away for free in most cases. You probably don't want other people to be able to capitalize off of your hard work. This is where a copyright comes into the picture.

Any intellectual property you create, including novels, performances, music and other tangible works, can be covered under a copyright. This copyright marks the property as yours and gives you specific rights to decide how you want to distribute the works.

When you hold the copyright to something, you can grant other people licenses to use the work. In these licenses, you can dictate how they can use the work. For example, you might give a license for a song to a dance studio to use in competitions; however, the license wouldn't grant the dance studio the right to take the music from the song and use it to create a jingle.

It is imperative that you understand the finer points about copyrights and licenses so that you can make sure your works are protected. You don't want your hard work to end up making someone else money while you sit there wishing you had protected yourself by copyrighting your works.

While many licenses are written, which is understandable since written licenses take away the question about what is allowed, it is also possible to grant an implied license. These are a little less formal, but this leaves a lot of question for the courts about the intent if there is ever a legal issue brought up about the implied license.

Source: FindLaw, "Copyright Licenses," accessed July 28, 2017

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