General Resources

These are general resources useful for creative artists of all types:

United States Copyright Office

It is easy to register your work online through the eCO system; you can find simple instructions on how to register here. You can also record a transfer of copyright ownership or search for the owner of a copyrighted work you would like to use.  You can also find copies of the Copyright Act, federal copyright regulations, the Copyright Office’s guidelines and procedures, and information about statutory licenses for broadcasting.

United States Patent and Trademark Office

Is someone else using your brilliant band name, or the title you’ve chosen for your trilogy? The Patent and Trademark Office allows you to search their database of registered trademarks, and to register your own.  It also provides some excellent information about trademark protection, which is much different from copyright and can be used to protect certain things that copyright does not protect.  If you’re interested in patents, you should know that this office does not handle them, since they are not useful to most artists.  However, you can find some excellent patent lawyers in Austin through the Austin Intellectual Property Law Association.

The Code of Best Practices for Fair Use in the Visual Arts, drafted by the College Art Association in 2015, contains guidelines for determining whether it is fair to use part of a copyrighted work for commentary, news reporting, criticism, teaching or scholarship, or in other artistic work.  Although standards for fair use are vague, and fair use is always determined on a case-by-case basis, these guidelines provide some help for professionals who must use copyrighted works.

The World Trademark Review reports on trademarks and trade names.  This is particularly useful for bands, but also good for any artist who wants to use a distinctive name to create a company or brand.

If you need a lawyer but you can’t afford me, your best bet is the Texas Accountants and Lawyers for the Arts. TALA matches low-income artists and small-budget arts nonprofits with volunteer attorneys and accountants to assist with arts-related legal and financial matters.