Legal – Copyright, Trademark, Patent, Business Law, etc.

The information on this page is provided as a resource only and should not be construed as legal advice.  The specific facts in every situation are different, so while easy access to these resources should provide some initial guidance towards understanding the concepts of copyright and trademark, this information should not be relied on completely. Laws change constantly, and although Triangle ArtWorks will try to keep these resources up to date, we can not guarantee it.  So, do not act or fail to act based solely on information provided below. Please consult an attorney for a complete understanding of how the copyright and trademark laws apply to you and your work in North Carolina.

Do you have information that would be of interest to the Triangle’s arts community? Send us an email

Law + ArtWorks “One-sheets” –

Our legal resource group, working with students at UNC Law School Pro Bono Program, is creating a series of one-sheets to provide quickly accessible information on legal issues relevant to artists and arts administrators.

Legal Issues in Photography

Reuse of Others Work – Prepared by Pam Chestek

10 Tips for Starting a New Business – Prepared by Brandon Huffman and UNC student, Cayla Rodney

Licensing – Prepared by attorney Brian Phillips and UNC Law Student Marion Ashby Brown



The United States Copyright Office website is really the best resource to help you better understand copyright.  

From the basics of copyright to a comprehensive and straight-forward “frequently asked questions” section and helpful factsheets, for us, this website contained the most comprehensive and up-to-date information about copyright, in an easy-to-read format.  It is the best place to start.

The Copyright Office explains how to register a copyright for:

The Copyright Office also offers an easy-to-understand index of Fair Use cases to educate the public: the Fair Use Index.

The U.S. Small Business Administration has a great online training course on patents, copyright and trademarks. It is a long course, but you can watch at your own pace.

Creative Commons advocates for less restrictive licenses than traditionally provided by copyright law.   They provide standard licenses that allow for some, but not necessarily all rights to be reserved.  Here is their FAQ section.

Blockchain Technology for Music Distribution: Muse, Ujo Music and BitTunes are using revolutionary blockchain technology to enable direct payments to the rights holders.  This video by the Duke School of Law explores blockchain and music copyright law.

Performing Rights Societies:  These companies, in the simplest terms, collect fees on the behalf of copyright owners. ASCAPBMI, and  SESAC  are some of the larger organizations that collect fees for songwriters, composers, and music publishers for public performance of their works.

SoundExchange collects fees for digital performance (satellite radio, internet radio, streaming) for owners of the sound recording.

AdMedia has an article on Copyright, Patent and Trademark as relevant to advertising, but it is worth a look as it contains a great list of links to good information.

Duke Law’s Center for the Study of the Public Domain (learn what public domain is on Stanford University Libraries’ page on copyright & fair use) makes available all their talks as streaming videos here and provides Spanish-language resources.


The United States Patent and Trademark Office provides a special guide for Musicians and Artists, a hotline for assistance and great resources like a guideline to the trademark process and a helpful basic facts booklet.

Check trademark status here.

The World Intellectual Property Organization provides a Global Brand Database of trademarks from around the world–the fastest way to determine whether your brand is unique.

A guide to Trademarks by the local law firm, Olive & Olive, P.A. is a great starting point for understanding the essentials of Trademark Law. Their Intellectual Property Learning Center has additional helpful guides.

An Essential Guide to Trademark Protection by Eric P. Stevens, a member of local firm, Poyner Spruill’s Entertainment Law Group, is another great resource.

The NCCU School of Law has a Trademark Clinic, which provides free legal assistance. UNC School of Law also has an Intellectual Property Clinic to help with trademark protection.


The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) provides a step-by-step video on how to conduct a preliminary patent search.

The World Intellectual Property Organization also has a database for patents around the world as well as a basic guide to trademark, patent, and copyright around the world.

The NCCU School of Law has a USPTO-certified Patent Clinic, which provides free legal assistance.


 Law + ArtWorks:

Triangle ArtWorks has a Team of Lawyers exploring ways in which we can further assist the Triangle’s creative community with legal issues and education.  Among other things, we provide local workshops and keep these legal resources up-to-date. We are getting ready to launch online educational videos; sign up for our mailing list to be the first to know.  If you are a lawyer and are interested in getting involved, email us!