The call started out innocently enough: “Are you Sarah McKenzie, the copywriter?”
“Yes, how can I help you?” I responded.
“I own a dance studio and have questions about using copyrighted music in my classes. Do you know the legalities surrounding that?”
Seeing as this wasn’t the first time that my copywriting services have been confused with copyright services, I decided it was time to write a blog on the topic.
Although they’re both pronounced the same way, the meaning of each word is completely different. Here’s the main difference between copywriting and copyright – and how to know when to use each term correctly.
What is Copyright?
When a legal, exclusive right is given to the creator of a work in a literary, artistic, educational or musical form, the term “copyright” is used. If someone other than the creator wants to use a particular artistic work that is protected by copyright, permission or payment for properly licensed usage is necessary.
Copyright has its limitations. Although it protects the original expression of a creative work idea, it does not protect facts, ideas, systems or methods of operation.
When granted under public law, copyrights are known as “territorial rights.” Copyrights of this type are limited to the territory of that specific jurisdiction and can vary by country. Some large groups of countries have made agreements with other countries on standardizing copyrighting procedures that cross national borders.
Although it depends on the jurisdiction, copyrights typically expire 50 to 100 years after the creator dies. The creation then becomes public domain.
The copyright formality is also country-dependant; some countries identify copyright in any completed work, regardless of formal registration.
What is Copywriting?
Copywriting is what we do.
It’s a term used to describe the creation of writing text that increases brand awareness and encourages a particular action about a certain person, business, opinion or idea. Traditionally used in advertising, copywriting is also used in brochures, billboards, websites, emails, social media posts and other marketing communications. Certain types of copy – such as website content – should utilize an effective SEO strategy to rank higher on search engine result pages.
Most types of copy include an action-provoking call to action (CTA) at the end of the content. When used effectively, CTAs can inspire a reader to sign up for more information (such as through an e-newsletter), contact a company for more information or actually purchase a product or service.
Copywriters typically work for advertising agencies, public relations firms or are employed as freelancers (like us!), writing for a variety of clients.
Although there is an ongoing debate between content writing and copywriting, we use the term interchangeably to keep things simpler for our clients.
The Main Difference Between the Two
By now, hopefully you have a better understanding of the differences between copywriting and copyright.
Still slightly confused? Then remember this key difference: Copyright is a form of protection whereas copywriting is a form of expression.
If, like the owner of the dance studio, you want to use copyrighted materials, then you will need to seek permission from the copyright holder. Otherwise, you could end up dealing with an expensive copyright infringement legal case.
But if you need help with creating informative, persuasive text for your website or other marketing materials, then a copywriter is your best bet.