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I want to have a firm grasp of these topics and I don't know where to start. I want to know how to copyright my work, the differences between copyrights and trademarks as well as how to legally establish myself as a freelance designer/small business.

Thanks in advance!

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AIGA has a book called "Professional Practices in Graphic Design" (Allworth Press, 1998) which covers a variety of helpful topics including negotiation, estimation, copyright, fair-use and even ethics. Might be worth seeing if you can find a copy. As far as establishing a small business - that is a legal question which we can't answer and which any answer would depend on location and country.

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