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How to prove copyright ownership

How to prove copyright ownership

3 months ago


8 min read

Written by

Parminder Singh


Copyright ownership is crucial in today's heavily digitized world. It helps ensure that creators of original works retain exclusive rights to their content. As a result, each owner of copyright can control the use, reproduction, and distribution of their works, protecting them from unauthorized use or potential infringers.

In this article, we're exploring copyright ownership, examining how copyright infringement can occur, providing practical ways to prove ownership of sound or video recordings, and answering the most widespread copyright questions. Let's jump right in!

What is copyright ownership?

Copyright ownership refers to the legal rights that belong to creators of original works of authorship, such as literary, artistic, musical, and dramatic works. When a creator produces an original work, they automatically become the copyright owner, which gives them exclusive rights to use and distribute it.

Copyright ownership also allows creators to protect their works from unauthorized use or reproduction. In most cases, copyright ownership lasts for the creator's life and a certain number of years after their death. During that time, the original creators can license or sell their work to others for use or distribution.

Copyright vs. proof of ownership

While copyright and proof of ownership are related concepts, they are, in fact, different from the legal standpoint. Copyright ownership refers to a creator's exclusive rights over their original work. In contrast, proof of ownership is the evidence that supports a person's legal claim to that work.

Copyright ownership arises automatically when an original work is created. Still, proof of ownership is often necessary to establish the creator's rights in a legal context. This can be achieved through registering the copyright with the appropriate government agency or documenting the creation and ownership of the work through contracts, licenses, or other forms of documentation. 

Copyright laws and regulations

Copyright laws and regulations are essential for protecting creators' intellectual property rights and shielding them from potential copyright infringement. They provide a legal framework that allows an individual creator or a company to retain ownership over their original works and control their use, reproduction, and distribution. Copyright protection laws cover various creative works, including literary, artistic, musical, and digital content.

How can copyright infringement occur?

Copyright infringement can take many different forms and can occur in various contexts. Generally, copyright infringement occurs when someone uses or reproduces a copyrighted work without the copyright holder's permission.

What counts as copyright infringement?

Copyright infringement involves reproducing a copyrighted text, image, video, or audio file without authorization, using copyrighted software or designs without a license, or broadcasting or performing copyrighted material without permission. In addition, in some cases, creating a work that is very similar to a copyrighted work, even if it was not directly copied, can also constitute an infringement of copyright. Regardless of its form, copyright infringement can result in the loss of profits for the copyright owner and have serious legal consequences for the infringer.

How to prove ownership of a sound/video recording

Proving copyright infringement is only possible by providing indisputable proof that the material in question belongs to you. Undoubtedly, it's best to register the copyright for your motion picture or audio recording. However, using a copyright registration service can be expensive - up to $200 for one recording. Also, remember that these services are centralized, meaning you can have issues with access or their servers can be turned off. So if you want to ultimately shield your intellectual property, you need to take care of an extra way to help prove your creation's ownership. The two most popular tips found online include using the file's metadata and emailing the file to a friend. However, these methods are hardly helpful. For starters, any file's metadata (time and date of the original creation) can be altered. Emailing your video or MP3 file is ineffective, either. Email providers own the servers where emails are stored and can deny you access or wipe the servers. You need a method to ensure your file and metadata are immutable.

How can ProofKeep® help you prove copyright ownership?

Here's where ProofKeep™ comes to save the day. Our user-friendly mobile app can capture video, audio, and images, ensuring the material remains authentic and untampered. This is a helpful way to protect your video or music copyright ownership and avoid copyright issues in the future.


To sum up, copyright ownership is a vital concept that enables creators to effectively protect and control their intellectual property. Still, proof of ownership is also essential in establishing copyright claims. While copyright infringement can have serious consequences, you should have solid proof to prove the ownership of your creation. The best practice to protect sound and video recordings is registering a copyright with government agencies and using technology such as ProofKeep®


Where do you register ownership of copyright?

The US Copyright Office is responsible for registering copyright ownership in the United States. To register your copyright, you must submit a copy of your work, an application, and the appropriate fee. The Copyright Office will then review your application and issue a copyright registration certificate, which is direct evidence to prove ownership.

What is the most common type of copyright infringement?

While it's challenging to identify the most common type of copyright infringement due to the many types of works and industries where it can occur, certain types of infringement take place more frequently than others. One of them is the unauthorized reproduction or distribution of copyrighted material, both physical copying and in digital form, for example, sharing a copyrighted audio track or film without permission, distributing copyrighted books or articles online, and selling unauthorized copies of a commercial software program or other licensed materials. 

Another common form of infringement is using copyrighted material without proper attribution or credit. This can include using individual images or photos without permission, copying and pasting online materials from websites or other sources without citation, or using copyrighted music or video in production, neglecting license terms.

Finally, creating works substantially similar to copyrighted works, even if they were not directly copied, can also lead to a copyright infringement lawsuit.

Who owns the sound recording copyright?

The individual who made the recording is the copyright owner. However, if the recording was created as part of an employment agreement or commissioned work, the copyright ownership may belong to the employer or the person who commissioned the work.

How do you find out who owns the rights for a photo/video?

You can look for watermarks, logos, or copyright notices on the image or video. In addition, you can do a reverse image search using a search engine. This will help you identify where else the image has been used and potentially lead you to the owner. If these methods don't bring any results, you can try contacting the person or organization that posted the image or video to ask for information about the owner.

How to prove copyright infringement?

To prove copyright infringement, you must demonstrate the unauthorized use of your copyrighted material, first establishing your ownership of the copyrighted work.

What happens if you infringe copyright?

Infringing copyright can have serious consequences, both legal and financial. If someone uses or reproduces that work without permission, they may face legal action, including a lawsuit. If the copyright owner wins the case, the infringer may have to pay damages, including the profits they made from using the work or the amount the owner would have earned if the infringing activity had been authorized. Sometimes, the infringer may also have to pay the owner's legal fees.

What are moral rights?

Moral rights are intellectual property rights that protect creators' non-economic interests in their works. Unlike economic rights, moral rights are personal and cannot be transferred or sold, even if the creator has assigned their copyright to someone else.

What is fair use?

Fair use refers to the unlicensed usage of copyright-protected works without violating copyright compliance in certain circumstances. For example, fair use copying takes place when you use limited portions of a work for commentary, criticism, news reporting, educational images, etc.

How to establish a copyright infringement claim?

To establish a claim of copyright infringement, the copyright owner has to prove ownership of a valid copyright as well as the fact of copying constituent elements of the work in violation of their intellectual property rights.

What is independent creation?

Independent creation refers to a defense against copyright infringement that claims that the alleged infringer independently created their work without actual knowledge of infringement. However, proving independent creation can be difficult and often requires strong evidence to support the claim.

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Parminder Singh

Technologist, Conceptual Designer, Lifelong Learner, Story Teller
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