Whether people in Las Vegas are writing a novel, working as a freelance website designer, or are composing music for clients, it is important for them to make sure that their work is protected to avoid unnecessary business litigation. According to Rights for Artists, this is done through establishing a copyright but there are certain criteria that must be met.

First, people must show that their work is fixated to what is called a tangible medium. For painters, their medium may be a canvas. For writers, it could be paper or an electronic document. For freelance website designers, it could be the Internet. The copyright is designed to protect a tangible product that exists in some form, whether that is in the digital or in the physical world.

Second, the work must demonstrate a minimal amount of creativity. For artists and writers, this implies expression of thought, feeling and imagery. Artists often demonstrate creativity through the colors they use in their medium, the use of light and shadow, and even subject matter. Writers use creativity to put together a picture with words that conveys some sort of storyline, message or purpose. For instance, a professor may write a book on the history of the Maya, focusing on his or her personal experiences.

Third, the work must be original. While there may be some similarity to other works, the novel, song or painting needs to be able to stand on its own. For a novel, this may be through the characters, the setting and even the plot. A painting may demonstrate a new technique or an appearance that is different from others in its style. A website may incorporate a unique layout, color scheme or graphics that sets it apart from others.

If the artist is able to show these things, then the next step is to register the work. While work on a document may be considered copyrighted because of the metadata information on the doc, it is always best to submit the work to the United States Copyright Office. The owner of the work will need to submit the unpublished work to the office and pay a relatively small fee. In return, the owner receives a copyright of ownership. Copyrights can be obtained for writings, musical work, graphics, sound recordings, architectural work, choreography and pictorial works.