How To Protect Your Work From Copyright Infringement
These days there are many ways to share and publish online, making it virtually impossible to protect your work from being exploited.
Just over a week ago we celebrated the release of Kendrick Lamar and SZA's video for Marvel Comic’s Black Panther soundtrack, which showcased African art and culture. However, the light of the music video is dimmed by allegations by British -Liberian artist Lina Iris Viktor that her work was used without permission for Lamar and SZA's “All the Stars” video. The copyright violation is for the 24-karat gold patterned artworks in Viktor’s series of paintings titled “Constellations”. According to Viktor’s lawyer, Christopher Robinson she has been contacted by the film’s creators for permission to use her artwork, but she declined.
In the past Beyonce’s has been accused of stealing the work of less known artists for the use of her videos. This goes to show that if you intend to license a creative idea, you will need to protect it.
Here are ways to protect your work and intellectual property:
1. Keep your ideas to yourself. It may be tempting to share your ideas with people, but until your venture is off the ground it’s best to stay mum, especially when ideas are still in their infant phase.
2. Paper trails are very necessary. Even if most of your business is done telephonically, one should recap conversations after every call. Take notes during meetings and keep a record of every area of your business. Keeping a record counts especially if you are collaborating on a project.
3. If nothing is signed on paper, you own the copyright.You have exclusive rights of how and when your work is used and published. The only way to transfer copyright is through writing.
4. When signing a “work for hire” agreement you don’t own the copyright. Meaning whoever has hired your work has the right to publish and distribute the work as they please. Be sure this agreement includes a clause that licenses the work back to you for limited use so that you can include it in your portfolio or on your website without issue.
5. Register your copyright: The copyright is yours unless stated otherwise, but written proof gives you surety of your rights. Copyrights can be done. online. For collections of work such as a group of photos or series of work the copyright can be done in a group registration to save costs. Copyrighting will protect you should you decide to sue someone for copyright infringement.
6.Use a copyright notice to prevent theft of your work. Unlike the copyright registration, the notice is free. What you do need is to include three elements in your copyright notice:
- The word “Copyright,” the abbreviation “Copr.” or a C with a circle around it
- The year of first publication
- Your name
7. If you see a violation of your work online you must know how to handle the infringement. 1. Screen shot or print the webpage with a date as record, find out who is responsible for the website and contact them to have your work pulled down from the site. If this doesn’t work contact a lawyer as soon as possible.
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