Copyright Law for Graphic Design

Linda Joy Kattwinkel & Shel Perkins

Is it True That Copyright Does Not Protect Graphic Design?

Filmed on October 17, 2016 at the 2016 AIGA Design Conference

There’s a persistent urban myth that says “graphic design is not protected by copyright.” Academics, lawyers, and even some employees in the U.S. Copyright Office have believed this to be true, but fortunately, they’re mistaken. Graphic and web design can often fit into a legal category of copyright protection for work called a “compilation.” In this session, Linda Joy Kattwinkel and Shel Perkins explain what a compilation is, show a range of examples, and explain the process for registering one.

Linda Joy Kattwinkel has been a visual artist for more than 40 years and an attorney and mediator for the arts community for more than 20 years. She graduated cum laude with a B.F.A. in communications arts from Virginia Commonwealth University, where she studied with Philip Meggs. For 13 years, she worked as a graphic designer and illustrator before receiving her law degree from UC Hastings College of the Law.

Kattwinkel represents designers and visual artists in matters of intellectual property and arts law, such as copyright and trademark protection, infringement, licensing, and gallery contracts. She is the author of Legalities, an online column for designers about legal issues and co-authored AIGA’s “Standard Form of Agreement for Design Services” with Shel Perkins.

Shel Perkins is a graphic designer, management consultant, and educator with more than 20 years of experience in managing the operations of leading design firms in the United States and the United Kingdom. He provides management consulting services to a range of creative firms in both traditional and new media and has written the Professional Practice column for STEP Inside Design magazine, the Design Business newsletter for AIGA, the Design Firm Management column for, and the best-selling book, Talent is Not Enough: Business Secrets for Designers.

Perkins teaches graduate-level courses in professional practices and has given presentations for many organizations, including Industrial Designers Society of America, Society for Experimental Graphic Design, and HOW magazine. He has served on the national boards of AIGA and the Association of Professional Design Firms, and is currently chairman of the AIGA Center for Practice Management.