In today’s digital age, content creators have become the driving force behind the online world. Whether it’s writing articles, designing graphics, composing music, or producing videos, creators pour their time, effort, and creativity into their work. However, as a content creator, it’s essential to understand your rights and how to protect your creations. One common area of confusion is whether content creators need copyrights, trademarks, or patents. In this article, we will delve into the truth about copyrights for content creators and shed light on whether copyrights, trademarks, or patents are necessary.

Copyrights: Protecting Original Creative Works

Copyright is an automatic intellectual property right that grants creators exclusive rights to their original works of authorship. The moment you create something original, such as a piece of writing, artwork, music, or software, it is automatically protected by copyright. Copyright protection exists to safeguard your work against unauthorized copying, distribution, display, or performance.

As a content creator, copyright protection can be incredibly valuable. It provides you with the legal right to control how your work is used and enables you to monetize it. Copyright infringement occurs when someone reproduces, distributes, or displays your work without your permission. Registering your copyright with the appropriate government agency, such as the United States Copyright Office, can provide additional benefits, including the ability to sue for damages in case of infringement.

Trademarks: Branding and Protecting Your Identity

While copyrights protect original creative works, trademarks focus on protecting brands, logos, slogans, and other distinctive elements that identify and distinguish goods or services. Trademarks provide exclusive rights to use and protect brand identity to prevent confusion among consumers and maintain brand reputation.

For content creators, trademarks may be relevant if you have a unique brand name or logo associated with your content. Registering a trademark with the appropriate government agency, such as the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), can strengthen your legal position and allow you to take legal action against infringers who use similar marks that could create confusion.

Patents: Protecting Inventions and Technological Innovations

Unlike copyrights and trademarks, patents are focused on protecting inventions and technological innovations. If your work involves inventing new processes, machines, compositions of matter, or useful improvements to existing inventions, you might consider applying for a patent. However, it’s important to note that patents are generally not applicable to most types of content creation, such as writing, graphic design, or music composition.

Patents can be complex and costly, involving detailed applications and examination processes. If you believe your work may qualify for a patent, consulting a patent attorney is highly recommended to navigate the intricate requirements and procedures.


As a content creator, understanding your rights and the various forms of intellectual property protection is crucial. Copyrights are automatically granted to your original creative works and provide essential protection against unauthorized use. Trademarks play a role in safeguarding your brand identity, and patents are relevant if you’re involved in inventing new technologies or processes.

While copyrights are generally the most important form of protection for content creators, it’s worth noting that specific circumstances may require a combination of copyright, trademark, and patent protection. To ensure comprehensive protection, consult with legal professionals who specialize in intellectual property law to assess your specific needs and guide you through the process.

Remember, safeguarding your creations is not only about protecting your own rights, but it also encourages a culture of respect for intellectual property, fostering creativity and innovation within the content creation community.

Video Transcript

Do content creators need copyrights, trademarks, or patents? Let’s break that into three questions.

Do Content Creators Need Copyrights?

The short answer is yes, but you don’t necessarily need to spend money on it. And if you do spend money, you don’t have to spend much. Here is why. When you are a content creator, for example, maybe you create content on Instagram, videos on TikTok, videos on YouTube, etc. By creating content, you automatically get a copyright in that content. Merely the creation of content creates a copyright owned by the owner, the artist, the one who created it. Now, if you are an employee working for an employer, the general rule is the employer owns the copyright. But let’s assume you are creating this on your own. By creating content, you have established a copyright or a common law copyright. It is not a registered copyright though. Why? Because you didn’t go file and register for copyright protection.

Why Does That Matter?

Because when you register for a copyright, you get a lot of important additional rights and protections. So the good news is when you create content, you automatically get a copyright in that content. Nobody else can take that copyright from you unless you give it to them. But by registering the copyright, you get rights such as being able to sue somebody for infringing your copyright, being able to prevent somebody from infringing goods into the country, and other important rights like recovering attorney’s fees if you sue somebody for infringing your copyright.

So people then often ask, should content creators register a copyright for everything they create? Usually that doesn’t make financial sense. In other words, it would be pretty expensive to register a copyright for every single TikTok video you create and every Instagram post and every YouTube video. Usually, content creators rely on the common law copyright protection that arises when they create content, but as they grow in popularity or as their business generates more money, they may decide to register a copyright in the really valuable work that they have created. So valuable video content, for example.

Do You Need a Lawyer for Registering Copyrights?

Generally, no. I regularly encourage my clients to try to do the copyright registration on their own because you pay a small filing fee. It is a fairly straightforward process. The copyright office isn’t carefully scrutinizing what you have submitted, it just gets stored on file.

Do Content Creators Need Trademark Protection?

Trademark is very different though. Let’s talk about that. Do content creators need trademark protection? Yes. The good news is you get a trademark just by using your mark or your slogan or your name in the sale of goods or services. And we are talking about significant goods or services which are called commerce. Advertising often is included with that.

What is a Trademark?

I visualize cows. Yep. I am talking about animals out on a pasture. And if you look at that cow, you want to know who is the owner of the cow? Well, if the cow has a brand on it, then you know it is the owner of that brand owns that cow. If the cow has no brand on it, you don’t know who owns the cow. So whatever logo or name is on the cow, you could call that its brand or its trademark. Now it is not necessarily registered anywhere, but simply by using a brand on a cow, you have acquired common law trademark rights where that cow is.

What is Commerce?

Assuming that cow is in commerce. Let’s talk about that. What is commerce? Commerce is a sale or significant advertising of any goods or services in a way that affects commerce in multiple states. So, for example, if you just sold a piece of bubble gum to somebody who lives in your home, you are not acquiring substantial or you are not engaging in substantial commerce. That is not likely to establish common law trademark rights and under U.S. trademark law, which applies to any sort of commerce affecting multiple states or from one state to another. Then, you are subject to the Lanham Act and U. S. copyright statutes. But simply by selling something doesn’t give you nationwide trademark protection. It only gives you common law protection in a particular county.

So, let’s say your cows were being sold from your location in Hennepin County to a buyer in Ramsey County. This is all in the Minneapolis, Minnesota area. Most likely, through those significant transactions you are acquiring common law trademark rights for the brand on the cow in both Hennepin County and Ramsey County, but not Iowa, not New York, not California. If you want nationwide trademark rights, you need to file for a federal trademark registration.

Do Creators Need Trademarks?

The answer is yes. Whenever you use a brand or a mark or a logo or a slogan or a phrase associated with your goods and services, and as long as that is unique to you and somebody’s not already using it first, you are acquiring common law trademark rights. I am assuming this is associated with some sort of transactions or goods or services.

For example, if you are creating videos where there is some sort of business component ultimately, that usually satisfies the requirement. So if you have a slogan that you use every time in your videos, and there is some sort of ultimate transaction where you can make money on those. Maybe it is through ads on your videos paid out by YouTube. Maybe it is some other source. You would most likely be acquiring common law trademark rights in that slogan. But if you would like to get nationwide protection, that is where it makes sense to do a registered trademark.

What is the Typical Cost Range for Registering a Trademark?

The cost to do a registered trademark is usually between $1,200 and $1,500 per mark, but there can be bulk discounts. And usually you need to use an attorney for that to get it done right. Unlike copyright law, where when you file a copyright registration, there is no strict scrutiny by the copyright office. In a trademark office, when you file a trademark registration application, an attorney will closely scrutinize your application. And it is quite common for the trademark office to reject applications or require changes because there were some sort of errors made. Also, even if they allow it through, your application is only as strong as its accuracy when you wrote it up.

I have seen many times where people don’t do it right. They have some sort of legal imperfection or error that results in eroding the value of the trademark to the point where sometimes it is worthless. So I always recommend people work with an attorney for trademark registration. I always recommend clients try to do copyright registration on their own, especially if it is not a significant work. A movie is a different story. But if it is a poem or an Instagram post or a short video without significant revenue tied to it, often you can just handle that copyright registration on your own.

Do Content Creators Need Patents?

Usually no. Most of the time, content creators do not need a patent because a patent protects processes, formulas, and designs that involve utility contrast utility like practical benefits with art. Art is in the realm of copyright, and so they are very different there. So usually content creators do not need patents.


All right. That does it for today. I would love to know if you find this helpful. And by the way, if you have other questions, feel free to add them in the comment section below. We will grab those and use those for future live sessions. You can also submit questions by email or using the form in the description below.

I am Aaron Hall, an attorney for business owners and entrepreneurial companies. This has been an educational broadcast. As always, all these issues I encourage you to use as topics to discuss with your attorney, not as a replacement for an attorney. This is educational information to empower you to avoid problems, establish a great company and hopefully have a better life You can find more about me at