One of the greatest gifts we possess is our ability to create that which did not exist before us and which will go on to live beyond us. Whether it’s a song, a painting, a poem, a photograph or even a recipe, those of us who pursue our creative passions know how much we put into making something original. It requires time, innovation, and vision. It also requires courage to share. One of the worst things that can happen is for someone to use our work without crediting us or even passing it off as their own. That’s why it’s important to know how to protect ourselves or find a solution when something like this comes up.

Attorney Shay Lawson is the kind of person you want on your team if you are a creative. She is an intellectual property attorney who focuses mostly on trademark, copyright, and contracts based on protecting rights for creatives. She works primarily with creative professionals in music and social media spaces.

Attorney Lawson’s journey wasn’t a straight line but nearly a decade into practicing law, she found herself working with a variety of clients over the years. Her client list has included multi-platinum music producers, Instagram influencers, documentary photographers, filmmakers, songwriters, plant-based wellness influencers, and TV anchors. She has assisted clients with major brand sponsorships like Pottery Barn, Johnson&Johnson, Pandora, Nike, Converse, MillerCoors, to name a few. She has also negotiated talent deals for television, record labels, films, and advertising campaigns. In her experience, it does not matter what kind of creative she works with, they all need to be aware of copyright, contracts, and trademarks. She shared valuable advice for all creative people.


What kinds of things do influencers need to keep in mind when posting on social media?

“Influencers should never think they are too small or even too big to have their work stolen. From the start, protect your content with watermarks, soundmarks, and copyright. You should also demand anyone to take down content that you have not authorized to be shared. You can find a sample cease and desist to use if you need a template. When it comes to using others’ content, always ask for permission first, cite your source, and comply with any requests to remove content that does not originate with you.”


How can creatives protect their intellectual property?

“Copyright protects what you make. Trademarks protect who you are your brand. Contracts protect both and keep your money in the bank.”


Can creatives draft their own contracts?

“You wouldn’t attempt to draft your own mortgage document or do your own root canal. Similarly, you should not attempt to draft your own legal agreements. Most people think they can’t afford a lawyer or a custom template, but that is not true. The money most creatives spend on a masterclass/webinar/workshop is also the same amount that could have legally protected the business they are working hard to establish. Using random templates found in a Google search is one of the top ways you will get your money and likely your creative content taken.  Investing in legal services and document templates custom made for your business will save you a lot of heartache. It will set the foundation for your work and profits to be protected from day one. 

One of my client’s, Marie Masse, a documentary photographer, recorded a podcast on how she hired me as her lawyer. In it, she shares how my services actually boosted her business. We covered topics like the difference between copyrights and trademarks and how to know the document template you have will work for your business. It’s a good listen for any creative: “

If you are a creative and want to learn more about your options to protect your work, you visit our website ( to learn more.