Many businesses take to social media when spreading the news about new products, services and noteworthy events. It is a quick way to share branded messages and custom content to convert prospects into clients. Unfortunately, once the artwork is on the internet, the organization could become a victim of copyright infringement. 

Business News Daily reports that small business owners can help protect themselves from expensive litigation by understanding copyright laws and image usage requirements. When individuals and other businesses download your artwork and use it for their own purposes, they can become liable for copyright infringement. 

Many people who download graphics, images and similar items from the internet are unaware they are guilty of theft. Sending a cease and desist letter may resolve the issue.  In some cases, once the infringement comes to their attention, an agreement can ensure proper use and acknowledgment of the item in question. In situations where logos or websites are the subjects of infringement, identification of the guilty party may depend on who filed for copyright protection first. 

Only you, as the original owner of the artwork, can hold someone or an entity accountable for the unlawful use of the design. Register artwork by going to the U.S. Copyright Office website and completing the online or downloaded form. According to the U.S. Copyright Office, the Copyright Act protects a variety of graphic, pictorial and sculptural works. This includes two- and three-dimensional art, photographs, technical drawings, charts, diagrams and architectural plans. Music, audiovisual work, sound recordings and screenplays also qualify for copyright protection. 

The litigation process is complex and expensive. Taking appropriate action and registering the artwork before issues arise is the best way to claim ownership and resolve issues without going to court.