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Copyright vs. Copywrite: Why You Need to Stop Confusing Between The Two Terms

Legal terms can be confusing and difficult to understand, especially if you are not in the legal field. However, it is essential to get their meaning right. Using the wrong words in the wrong context or even the slightest misrepresentation can sometimes result in a costly mistake. Here are two terms that are often misunderstood or used interchangeably, even though their meanings differ.  

The words copyright and Copywrite are homophones, meaning they sound the same, but their meanings differ.

What are Copyrights

Copyrights are part of the intellectual property rights that serve to safeguard creative and original works. They guarantee the creator of a work the sole legal right to reproduce or distribute the work in any form, including but not limited to film, performance, print, and electronic media.

A copyright owner can be anyone who creates original work in a tangible form. In truth, authorship and property rights belong to the creator as soon as the work takes a tangible form, such as when a lyricist writes lyrics, a photographer takes a picture, or an artist completes a painting of a subject. The owner may wish to seek further protection by registering with the U.S. Copyright Office.

What is Copywriting?

Copywriting is the art of persuasive writing, often used by brands for marketing and promotional purposes. This type of material is commonly referred to as ‘copy.’ Those who write copy are referred to as copywriters. ‘Copywrite’ isn’t exactly an accepted term in most contexts, “copywriter” is a valid noun. A copywriter comes up with ideas for the taglines, product descriptions, and scripts. Fans of the TV show Mad Men will remember that one of the main characters, Peggy Olson, makes the transition from secretarial work to copywriting.

Where Copy is Generally Found

Copywriters devise all sorts of textual products. You most likely come into contact with copy on a daily basis. Copywriters provide a wide range of materials for use in traditional and modern advertising forms, including but not limited to brochures, billboards, annual reports, blogs, brand films, infomercials, how-to guides, video series scripts, and more. Copywriters think of the brand’s needs, the target audience, and the purpose when selecting what kind of copy to create.

Where Copyrights and Copywriting Meet

While it is clear that the terms ‘Copyright’ and ‘Copywriting’ cannot be used interchangeably since their meanings differ vastly, there is some scope for these two concepts to meet. When copywriters write copy for brands, they are creating work that is protected by copyrights.  Unless they are an employee creating the copy in the scope of their employment, the copyrights to the work belong to the copywriter. This means that if the business owner hires a contractor or outside business to create their copy, they will need a written agreement to assign those rights from the copywriter to the business.  If not, the copywriter is free to use the copy any way they see fit, including allowing another business to use the copy. 

To learn more about copyrights, take our free Protect Your Brand Mini Course.

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