Intellectual Property Rights
Intellectual Property Rights are a set of protections for the creator of Intellectual Property. The different types of protections for Intellectual Property are:
Gives the creator of an original work exclusive rights to it. Applies to a wide range of mediums, such as web content, photography, illustrations etc. The creator will automatically gain Copyright protection upon the creation of their work. It protects the creator from others copying the work, distributing the work, adapting the work and displaying the work. It may be necessary to apply for copyright in other countries, though there are international copyright agreements. The length of the copyright varies depending on the type of media. Copyright doesn’t cover ideas but rather their form of manner of expression, for example, an idea for a novel can not be copyrighted whereas the written novel can be.
Patents are used to protect inventions and give the holder the right to take legal action against anyone who makes, uses, sells, offers to sell or import their invention. In order to be given a patent, the inventor must publicly disclose the information of the invention. For a patent application to be successful the inventor needs to prove the following: new, inventive and applicable. That is it can’t be an obvious idea, can’t be a modification of a previous idea and must be able to be used or made. Patents are only applicable to the country in which they are applied for, it is possible to apply for a patent in multiple countries by applying under the Patent Cooperation Treaty, for example.
Design Rights protect the visual design of something that is not purely utilitarian, that is to say the aesthetics of it. For 3D objects, you automatically gain the design right when its designed. For 2D designs, such as wallpapers or graphics, the design right needs to be applied for. To claim design right you need to provide proof, which can either be copies of design drawings or photographs held be a bank or solicitor, or sent to yourself via registered, dated post and left unopened.
A Trademark is used to protect your brand, this can be product names or logos. Holding a Trademark allows you to take action against anyone using your brand without permission and allows you to sell and license your brand. By holding a Trademark you can apply the ® symbol to your brand to indicate it is protected.
Trade Dress is a protection for the visual appearance and characteristics of how a product is packaged that signify the source of the product. For example, the Apple Stores are protected under Trade Dress due to their unique layout and design. Trade Dress can also apply to things such as Magazine covers or a restaurant chains decor and colour scheme.
In relation to digital design, Copyright and Trademarks are perhaps the most relevant. As a designer any photographs or illustrations created are immediately protected under Copyright. Logos and branding can be protected under Trademark if applied for.
Creative Commons licenses is something that one can apply to their own work which gives you protection on how the image is used. There a various different versions of CC licenses, each with their own limitations and allowances.
A breakdown of the Creative Commons Licenses:
Lets others distribute, remix, tweak, and build upon your work, even commercially, as long as they credit you for the original creation.
This license lets others remix, tweak, and build upon your work even for commercial purposes, as long as they credit you and license their new creations under the identical terms.
This license allows for redistribution, commercial and non-commercial, as long as it is passed along unchanged and in whole, with credit to you.
This license lets others remix, tweak, and build upon your work non-commercially, and although their new works must also acknowledge you and be non-commercial, they don’t have to license their derivative works on the same terms.
This license lets others remix, tweak, and build upon your work non-commercially, as long as they credit you and license their new creations under the identical terms.
Only allows others to download your works and share them with others as long as they credit you, but they can’t change them in any way or use them commercially.
No Rights Reserved
Allows content creators to opt out of database and copyright protection, allowing their work to be available as freely as possible in the public domain.
Other ways to Copyright protect an Image
Searching for Protected Images
Flickr allows their users to apply various licenses to their work when they upload it. This then allows visitors to search for work and filter it by the type of license.
For example, after entering a search term on flickr you can then filter the results by the license type. The above screenshot shows filtering by all Creative Commons Licenses. You can also filter by more specific license limitations. When viewing an image flickr presents an icon of the relevant CC license applied to it, clicking on it will bring you to the relevant license page on the Creative Commons website.
On Google Images
Google Image Search will keep any information on usage rights of images it indexes. When a user searches they can then filter the results by usage rights, done by selecting Search Tools from the menu and selecting the required option from Usage Rights
A question often arises as to who owns the copyright for a design, the designer or the client. It may seem logical that as the client payed for the design they would become the full owner if it once completed. However, Copyright law states that it is the designer who owns the Copyright and receive Copyright Protection automatically. Therefore, when hired to create work for a client, unless stated in the contract, the designer will own the copyright to the work. An exception is if the designer is employed by a company. If the client hires the company to undertake design work, and you are the person who actual makes the design, you do not own the copyright, rather your employer does.
If clients are being difficult, the best way to deal with them is professionally. Highlight to them the terms of the contract and explain what it means, if they require work or services not outlined in the contract an additional contract would need to be drawn up indicating the terms of the work. It is important to protect yourself from difficult clients when agreeing on the contract, and if they are insisting on unreasonable terms, or ones that make you uncomfortable you have the right to simple walk away.