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What Is In Common Between Copyright And Copywriting ?


The difference between the almost right word & the right word is really a large matter -

it’s the difference between the lightning bug and the lightning.

Mark Twain. Letter to George Bainton, 10/15/1888


When looking through a lot of posts or articles of the kind, the first statement you may quite often come across is that “copyright” and “copywriting” are two completely different notions. Then, why do we still mix them up? 


Let’s consider the question more precisely.


Where Do“Copyright” & “Copywriting” Come From?

The confusion usually occurs due to the obvious similarities in pronunciation of the words as well as in their origin, since they both were derived from the same stem – “copy”. 

As for the meaning of “copyright”, it’s usually described as follows:

The exclusive legal right, given to an originator or an assignee to print, publish, perform, film, or record literary, artistic, or musical material, and to authorize others to do the same” following definition. 

Whereas “copywriting” is primarily defined as the job of writing advertising copy. This definition involves a lot of constituents growing in number as fast as marketing science develop, i.e. creating web content, email copywriting, SEO copywriting, etc.   

Well, on the one hand, it’s hardly possible to deny the connection between the terms in question, namely you apply copyright to defend your copy write which was done as a result of copywriting process. But on the other hand, you can clearly perceive now the way these terms differ. 

To find out what is special about “copyright” and why it talked your ear off, let’s focus on the following basic issues: 

Who Is A Copyright Holder?

Beyond all doubt, the only owner of the material created is its author and only he or she is entitled to distribute, copy, rewrite, publish, etc. his or her works. Besides, you may sell the copyright for your works or assign it to somebody else willing to get it.

And yet the above axiom has exceptions. For instance, when employed, the ownership of your works is automatically attributed to your employer unless the opposite is provided by the agreement. In this case the author may be represented by an entire legal entity. Consequently, all the benefits acquired due to the works created by you belong to your employer as well.

Working jointly, copyright is owned in the ratio directly proportional to the amount of work done by each of the contributors. Here a number of sub-groups is defined with regard to the type of cooperation (for more details, please consult [4]).

In terms of freelance work, the copyright holder is a customer, provided otherwise stipulated in the contract. That’s why it’s very essential to discuss all the details of your cooperation long before you become irritated with your customer’s arrogance. Even when you register at the site specially designed for freelance writers, pay attention to the terms and conditions under which you’ll work relative to copyright issues as well and make a decision whether to accept them or not. 

Thus, depending on the country you are from, there may exist some differences in identifying actual copyright owners, so it’s necessary to consult respective laws not to be in an awkward position.

Please note: in case of absence of contract regulating copyright ownership issues, the author is often considered to be the only copyright holder.

What Is Subject To Copyright Protection?

Generally, copyright protects artistic, literary, architectural, computer works, e.g. scenarios, novels, songs, programs, etc. While mere ideas, concepts, theories, suppositions, strategies, etc. do not fall under the copyright responsibility area. To prove it’s really so, just think of how many articles outlining the same type of issues you’ve already read and nobody asked an official permission of the very first author to write on the same kind of subject. In addition, there were no cases of copyright infringement based on this reason.  

For instance, there are a lot of “how-to” tips describing what way copywriters may succeed in writing catchy headlines. The idea to create such topic struck somebody once and he or she wrote the tips. Then those who read it and those who wanted to share their experience did alike, i.e. wrote an article under the similar title having the same purpose but listing different methods to achieve it.

Discoveries, symbols, phrases and so on and so forth aren’t usually referred to copyright. Still the destiny of a logo remains rather questionable, falling under both trademarks and copyright protection.

Since not all the notions can be clearly defined with regard to their protection areas, it’s better to refer to lawyers specializing in the matter.

Is Copyright A Must-Have For Copywriters?

In such countries like Australia, the UK and the USA, copyright is assigned to you the moment you created a work and recorded it in a tangible form. To be on the safe side, most of the official copyright offices emphasize the necessity to do the following: 

To help protect your copyright work, it is advisable to mark it with the © symbol, the name of the copyright owner and the year in which the work was created.” (according to 

Nevertheless there are those who agree to undergo formalities just to obtain official document certifying copyright ownership and its state registration. It’s done as a kind of precaution to facilitate legal proceedings conduct in case you fall victim of copyright infringement. And it proved to be rather effective, by the way.

What Are The Time-Limits For Copyright?

Simply put, the copyright protection period may vary depending on the type of work it protects and category of copyright. In general, the copyright protection for literary, musical, theatrical works comes into forth once the work is published and continues for up to 70 years since the day of the author’s death.

Hence, for each particular case, you’d better research a bit, ask for experts’ advice or refer to official web sources, e.g.:

  • The US Copyright Office site –; 
  • The Intellectual Property Office in the UK site –  

So, interaction of the terms mentioned in the headline is obvious. By understanding clearly what each of them means, you’ll always be able to tell the difference. 

P.S.: Your are always welcome to share your opinion regarding the matter in comments below!

  • copy, 
  • copyright, 
  • copywriting, 

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