The materials in our Resources section are for informational purposes only, without any representation that they are accurate or complete. These publications do not constitute legal advice and do not create an attorney-client relationship between the reader and any other person, nor are they an offer to create such a relationship. These publications are current as of the date written, but laws change over time and vary from state to state. As a result, the information presented here may not be timely and/or appropriate for any state not specifically addressed in a publication. Consult an attorney if you have questions regarding the content of any publication.

Copyright & Trademark

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Posted on April 23, 2021

A nonprofit relies on its founder for its initial ideation, organization and drive. Many founders also create intellectual property that is used by the nonprofit, before and after the organization is created. During this webcast, our speakers will review some legal considerations and best practices for nonprofits around using content created by its founder including:

• What types of IP might be relevant?

• Is there a difference if a founder is a paid employee or unpaid volunteer?

• Written and implied license rights for use of the founder’s materials.

• Special considerations for internet content.

• If a nonprofit pays its founder to use their IP, what are the tax-exempt considerations?

Speakers: Ron Coleman, Partner at Parker Hudson & Robyn Miller, PBPA Senior Corporate/ Tax Counsel

View the Webcast


Slides – When a Nonprofit Uses IP Created by its Founder

Posted on July 19, 2018

Applying for a trademark is a crucial step in solidifying and protecting your organization’s hard work and reputation. However, when applying for a trademark, your address, email address, and other details of your registration are added to the public domain. This gives unethical companies the opportunity to flood your mailbox and your email with deceiving notices in an attempt to get you to pay for private trademark renewal services you do not need. Please be aware that you are not required to pay for services through these private companies to renew a trademark registration.

Posted on February 28, 2018

Nonprofits, like all organizations, collect and create information that is valuable to the organization and important to maintain in confidence. Examples include client information (including personal and medical information), donor information, personal information (about board members, volunteers, or employees), as well as other business and financial information that needs to be protected. This article outlines five steps organizations should consider in protecting their confidential information.

Posted on September 15, 2016

Nonprofits create many things, from curriculum to videos to websites to music. After expending their limited resources to create things (or to pay others to create them), nonprofits should certainly consider how to protect their rights in those things. Copyright protects works of authorship from unauthorized copying and distribution. An original work of authorship becomes protected by copyright as soon as it is recorded in some physical medium, such as on paper, canvas or computer hard drive. Nonprofits should consider taking the additional step of registering their most important works with the US Copyright Office in order to preserve their rights in the event that someone copies or distributes their works without permission.

Posted on August 20, 2015

Photographs promote a nonprofit’s operations unlike anything else. They can be used on websites, in brochures and newsletters, and on social media to demonstrate what an organization is doing in its community. Confusion, however, abounds on when an organization can use photographs legally and under what circumstances.

During this 30-minute webinar, our speaker helps nonprofits understand:

• Basic considerations in using a photograph of people;
• An organization’s rights in using a photograph; and
• How to avoid legal problems when using photographs.

Presenter: John Bush, Bryan Cave

Please click here to view the webcast.

Posted on August 19, 2015

Nonprofits spend many hours working on fundraising brochures, training materials, photographs, and sometimes even software. Each work product is protectable under copyright law and, for some valuable property, is an asset that the nonprofit can license either to further its cause or as a potential revenue stream.

During this 30 minute webcast, our speaker helps nonprofits understand:
• Basic principles of copyright law
• Considerations in licensing a nonprofit’s materials for use by others
• Enforcing a copyright
• Registering a copyright

Presenter: John Bush, Bryan Cave

Please click here to view the webcast.

Posted on July 16, 2015

Whether your organization has just been born or has been serving the community for decades, you may not realize that your organization’s trademarks and branding are valuable symbols for trust and quality to those you serve. The reputation of your organization is inseparable from its brand. As a result, it is important that these intellectual property assets are selected with care. It is also critical to protect your trademarks from infringement or dilution by others, which can be common in the nonprofit space.

This webcast will appeal to those both new and experienced in the area of nonprofit brand management. With the opportunity for interactive Q&A, we will generally discuss:

• How to select strong, non-descriptive trademarks.
• How to police your brand and handle infringement disputes.
• Tips on maintaining an effective social media presence.
• Making “creative review” part of your marketing culture.

Presenter: Anuj Desai, Arnall Golden Gregory

Please click here to view the webcast.

Please note that 33 minutes into the webcast we experienced some technical difficulties.

Posted on June 11, 2015

Volunteers and employees of nonprofits often pull images and other content from the Internet in preparing newsletters, social media posts and other materials. This can easily expose the organization to liability for copyright infringement. This article provides a basic understanding of copyright law as well as a list do’s and don’ts for using materials from the Internet so that you can help your organization avoid copyright infringement actions.

Posted on July 17, 2014

This is part six of an eight part webinar series that provides general legal information about operating a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt, nonprofit corporation. Your nonprofit may have valuable “intellectual property” rights in your organization’s name, logo, program materials and other assets. This webinar will give an overview of intellectual property considerations, and how to best protect these assets.

Presenters: Rick McMurtry, Esq. and Carly Regan, Turner Broadcasting System

Click here to view webinar.

Posted on October 16, 2013

Imagine that you have volunteers who prepare the latest, greatest materials for your organization’s new program. Photos were taken, brochures are hot off the press, and training manuals are ready for distribution. You may ask yourself – how can I use these great materials for other future programs? Within this question lies a common, but dangerous misconception – an assumption that your organization owns the materials, and that they can be used in any manner that the organization desires.

Join us for an informative webinar discussing a broad overview of how to navigate Copyright Laws to protect the important work of your organization, specifically focused upon copyright ownership and the use of releases and assignments to protect the broad array of materials created by those within and outside of your organization.

During this webinar, we will discuss:

• Who owns materials created for your organization under U.S. Copyright Laws.
• What are the benefits of Copyright ownership for your organization.
• How can your organization use releases and assignments to ensure protection of copyrightable materials.
• What are the best practices for the use of copyright-protected materials owned by others.

Presenters: Devin Gordon and Kevin Glidewell, Turner

Click here to access the webcast.