Thought it would be a good idea to write a blog about what intellectual property is and what it means for businesses and individuals.
What is intellectual property?
In a basic form it’s a piece of material that has been created by an individual, business or organisation. Be that a design, piece of music, work of literature, character, world or universe.
There are laws in place to automatically protect a business and/or individual when they have created a piece of work but you can also get a piece of work or works protected by getting them copyrighted through an authority, in the case of the United Kingdom that is the IPO Information Centre.
It’s on the internet. It’s free.
Now there are those businesses that create pieces of work and material for free with the intent of it being used by a wider audience, this is commonly known as open source. It is more often than not labelled as such and can be used without breaching copyright. Though, just because a piece of artwork is published online it is still bound by the copyright of the business and/or individual that created it.
If you’re a content creator you’re probably very aware of this term. YouTube vloggers use this as a means to critique a piece of work. This could take the form of taking a snippet from a book, television programme, movie etc.
On occasion some production companies do take offense to vloggers using their work and it has been the case where a copyright claim has been put against a particual video and/or YouTube channel. This also applies to music being used within a video on social media that has not been authorised by the music artist and/or music label.
Terms and conditions
It goes without saying that as a creative and business you should have your terms and conditions published somewhere across your business, be it on a social media channel or within your website.
This outlines what you are both liable for and what your customers are liable for if they breach your terms and conditions.
It’s a good idea to go through and update these to ensure you stay up to date with any work you may have created or other work you are involved with.
Breach of intellectual property
It’s a sad fact that individuals and business do use work without the permission of the original creator.
By having both a clearly defined terms and conditions as a indivual creative and/or business you can take the following action.
• Ask for money from the individual and/or business that used your work.
• Go through the courts to recoup loss of earnings due to the breach.
If you have no other option that to go through the legal process, be sure to take screenshots of the work being used, any reviews and interactions that may reinforce your claim.
This is when a piece of intellectual property runs out of copyright or the business and/or individual is no longer able to protect the copyright.
An example of this would be Winnie the Pooh, created by author A. A. Milne and illustrated by E. H. Shepard.
Though the character of Winnie the Pooh can now be transformed into other creative works, the original artwork of the character created by E. H. Shepard and subsequently Disney are still bound by their own copyright.
You can as a creative apply for a license to use an existing intellectual property.
However, if you use a character or theme in a piece of creative work you are subject to possible legal and financial consequences if the person or business responsible for the original work finds out.
This also applies if you buy cloth or textiles that have Marvel and DC comic book characters or Disney characters included and then make something for your commercial gain. This would be a breach of that particular intellectual property, if you haven’t got a license to use those characters.