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The Wild West internet and Intellectual Property
by Startacus Admin
The internet has created a huge range of issues when it comes to protection of intellectual property, Maxine Horn shares her expert advice on the matter...
Recent statistics state that in the digital age images and content uploaded to the internet in one day today is the equivalent of what 5 years ago was the quantity of material uploaded in an entire year.
This has resulted in significant intellectual property issues for content producers and creators of all type and size. They rely, like anyone else, on the internet to market their work but, unlike others they are far more vulnerable to the wild west of the internet where the majority of users believe what is free to access and free to view is and should be free to use without payment or permission.
What users fails to appreciate is that content, music, film, designs and creative images are the products of Creators’ and therefore downloading and using their work without permission or payment for commercial purpose or otherwise is literally theft even if theft was not the purposeful intention.
On the other hand Creators themselves need to shoulder some of the responsibility. If creators upload their work with no visible identifier to confirm ownership and they fail to communicate usage terms such as permitted use or rights reserved, then they are making no effort to safeguard their property before or after being separated from their web site. This results in Creators compounding their own Intellectual Property problems and fuelling the vat of Orphan Works.
As a result unattributed ideas, innovation and creation are not only leading to uncontrolled plagiarism and copyright breach but also the erosion of original source.
On a regular basis I see source credits appearing as the name of the web site or publication that an image, article or film appeared on rather than the name of the owner/creator. Or the source credit cited as ‘Google / Google Images’ or simply as ‘the internet’. So even those who have the courtesy to seek to credit the source are crediting the wrong source and as a result it is the search engines and the internet at large, not the Creators who benefit.
In a digital age where the first port of call for even basic research is Google, Creators are not only losing revenues but are also losing accreditation to their work and their own identities.
Roll forward the years and it will not be long before the very concept of ’credit the original source’ is lost, buried under a mountain of uncredited or wrongly credited works. I hate to think of the potential damage to cultural history unless the tide can be turned.
IP awareness and education of the consumer market is critical
The public can hardly be held responsible for the lack of IP communication by publishers and portals nor for the lack of effort on the part of Creators to ensure their work is attributed to them and their permission, where relevant, sought for its use.
Arguably responsibility begins with Creators and all businesses placing content on the internet to take responsibility to mark their property. Followed by the publishers of content who should insist content is submitted with an identifier. And finally the search engines should apply a prominent copyright statement in layman’s terms urging internet users to ensure they seek permission to use the content / work and credit the Creator.
Would home owners leave their house unlocked and switch off their alarm invalidating their insurance if their house were burgled?
Yet that is the equivalent of a Creator putting their work into the public domain with no identifier as to its original source. Changes to IP laws will permit the use of works where after a ‘due-diligence’ search the owner remains unknown and the works classified as orphan works. If used by others commercially or non-commercially there would be little chance of Creators achieving back-dated remuneration, credits or recompense for breach of IP rights.
Whatever you do, do something.
There are easy steps a Creator can take. The minimal effort options without cost are:
Embed your email or web addresses visibly in your images and documents placed online
And add an IP Page to your web site with an IP Statement concerning your content and its usage
Professional options with third party security at low cost include:
Registering works whether concepts or completed, with Creative Barcode and creating IP Tags to apply to your creations and content is quick and easy to do. www.creativebarcode.com/iptags.html
IP tags contain your own makers-marque and a url unique to the item it is applied to leading to your Meta Data including IP status, ownership and contact details. It ensures you are always correctly attributed to your work and where applicable contacted for licensing or commissioning of new work. And if you are pitching for business or showing designs to retails buyers, partners, investors or even suppliers; you can use the file transfer facility where the trust charter agreement is accepted before download can commence. Creative Barcode costs just £125 plus vat per annum including 120 credits and 5GB storage. It works internationally and is endorsed by the British Library and World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO). It has never been breached. Creative Barcode also have circa 20 law firms as partners.
Registering works with other private registries that are genuine and authenticated is also an option. There are a handful of good ones and unfortunately there are others masquerading as ‘official’ with names to match but whose service, whilst not illegal, is largely valueless. Just be sure to thoroughly checkout what the offer is and take time to understand it.
Engage a lawyer to write your IP policies and advise you on an IP strategy for your business.
Your lawyer might have a service to store full copies of your work in archives or even a digital store. These are not very common and charges for storage and retrieval would apply.
National, European or Worldwide Trade Mark, Patent and Registered Design Rights
Costs and processes vary Country by Country. In the UK the national office is www.ipo.gov.uk
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