Disclaimer: I am not a lawyer, law student or anything remotely close and/or in any way related to the law field.
That said, I do still have my own legal issues to be aware of. Recently, I have started up my own company, which brings even more legal nightmares. As for my design and development work, there are quite a bit of legal things that I needed to be aware of.
These are pretty easy to register. At least in the U.S. it is. I'm not so sure about how other countries work. For the U.S. head on over to the U.S. Copyright Office's website and do the online registration. It costs about $35 per copyright. This is good for just about all design work and also includes the programming code.
These are the ones that have most recently driven me crazy. You can license your code, design work, photos, etc with various different licenses such as Creative Commons, MIT, GNU and many more. There are a lot of resources available online for these and Creative Commons helps you pick the license you want to use. My confusion comes from having both a Copyright and License on the same material. As a general understanding, everything I write and put on my website is Copyrighted. But at the same time, I have some code that is freely available for downloading and modification under MIT license both on my website and also on GitHub.
Another issue I am working on figuring out all the legalities of, is how to properly license out work to a client. I have seen quite a few articles online and even some books stating that it's best to retain the Copyright for the websites I design and build, while licensing out the design to the client. That's a great idea, but there's no legal paperwork or explanation on how this whole process works. AIGA has a pretty good write-up for designers.
I'm still trying to figure this all out, but I have run into some good resources.
- Copyright Basics for Graphic Designers - AIGA
- U.S. Copyright Office
- Creative Commons Licenses
- Open Source Licenses - Open Source Initiative
- The legal guide for designers - .Net Magazine
- Legal issues in starting up - a primer - SitePoint
- Logic Sold Separately - Legal Issues for Developers - SitePoint
- Thwart the design thieves - .Net Magazine
- What to Do When Someone Steals Your Work - FreelanceSwitch
- The Uncomfortable Facts About Plagiarism - Freelance Folder
- FYI: Do You Know Your Freelancing Rights? - Freelance Folder
- Startup Company Lawyer Blog
- Startup Lawyers: When Can You Do It Yourself? - OnStartups