Creative Property Protection

by Jessica Rohn

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Public Relations and Creative Content

The field of public relations requires practitioners to create captivating and often innovative campaigns in order to reach audiences far and wide. But how can someone navigate through the the massive amounts of content without breaking the law?

The following guide lays out the dos and donts of creating a campaign and respecting intellectual property.


Copyright is defined as:

the legal right to be the only one to reproduce, publish, and sell a book, musical recording, etc., for a certain period of time (Merriam-Webster).

Ensuring that you are not violating copyright, or all rights reserved, is a tricky process. "As technology makes distributing works easier and easier, it is even more important to be mindful of copyright issues because the penalties can be severe – no matter how innocent the infringement may seem" (Lasky, Edelman, & Keen, 2016). It is pertinent to understand that copyright law protects all forms of media, with or without the familiar C symbol seen above.

Do to the sensitive nature of copyright law, it is important that a public relations practitioner always receives implicit authorization to use someone else's creative property.


"Trademarks are symbols and words that identify a product, such as your company's logo. Whenever you create a new logo, you should register a trademark for it so you get added protection" (Dwilson, 2016).

It is also important to refrain from using someone else's trademarked logo or property for profit. When in doubt, the United States Trademark and Patent Office Website is a great place to go to prevent yourself from violating any copyright or trademark laws.

Again, permission is key!


But wait! One can use copyrighted material without violating laws under certain circumstances.

"Fair use is a legal doctrine that promotes freedom of expression by permitting the unlicensed use of copyright-protected works in certain circumstances. Section 107 of the Copyright Act provides the statutory framework for determining whether something is a fair use and identifies certain types of uses—such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research—as examples of activities that may qualify as fair use" (United States Copyright Office, n.d.)

Still, give credit where credit is due.

Copyright. (2016). In Merriam-Webster. Retrieved from

Dwilson, S. D. (2016). What laws affect public relations?. In Chron. Retrieved from

Lasky, M. C., Edelman, S., & Keen, S. (2016). How to copy "right" and how not to copy "wrong". In PR Council. Retrieved from

More information on fair use. (n.d.). In United State Copyright Office. Retrieved October 14, 2016, from