Tag Archives: Intellectual Property rights

Intellectual property

Intellectual Property Rights – Frightening?

I was speaking to a designer recently who said that people find IP rights very frightening.

That intrigued me. Why fear IP? Is it that you fear what you don’t understand? Is it that IP is a nuisance perhaps?

Whatever the reasons for this designer’s comment the reality is that IP is part and parcel of business. You need to be mindful of IP all the time, whether you’re starting a new project or business or growing or exiting a business.

 

It’s Possible It’s Not Your Intellectual Property

The fact that it’s possible that something you assume is yours is regarded by the legal system as not yours is a difficult concept to grasp perhaps. That’s because IP often resides within something else. At it’s simplest you may own a book but you don’t own the copyright in that book. It belongs to the author or the publisher. Similarly, you may own your website in the sense that it’s your site, but not necessarily own the copyright in its designs and functionality. What this means is that you can use it for your business but if you try to licence valuable parts of the design or functionality to others in order to generate a new income stream you would be prevented from doing so because you don’t own the copyright and designs in it.

Questions that arise in relation to IP include:

  • What type of IP is it?
  • How should you protect it so it can be yours?
  • What should you do to turn your idea into IP that you can own?
  • Is it essential to keep your idea secret so you can own valuable IP?
  • Are you infringing on other people’s Intellectual Property?

What Is Intellectual Property?

Intellectual property (“IP”) is an umbrella term that describes a range of rights in intangible assets, such as:

        • Copyright: in various works like photographs, words, music, logos, and software.
        • Designs: rights in the shape of goods like ipads, or bottles, or in the surface design of materials such as wallpaper.
        • Trademarks: rights in packaging, names, slogans, and logos.
        • Patents: over an innovation which was previously unknown, like the bagless Dyson vacuum cleaner.

IP rights are territorial, which means you are generally protected in the countries in which you register them. For IP rights that arise automatically, such as copyright, you will have wider protection worldwide thanks to international treaties between countries.

Also, there are useful measures you can and should take in other countries to better protect your assets.

 

Owning Intellectual Property

To own intellectual property rights it’s necessary to take the right actions in relation to your ideas. That’s how you avoid discovering that your ideas become someone else’s intellectual property. It’s important when commissioning someone to carry out certain types of activity that results in new IP to have the right agreements in place.

Otherwise, you could find that:

  • your logo belongs to the designer who created it.
  • your website is not yours to do with as you like

Due to the IP default rules, it’s all too possible if you don’t know the right actions to take, to find that you pay for work to be created, but that you don’t own the rights to exploit it.

The biggest trap to avoid is finding that your idea for business software becomes the IP of those who develop it.

 

Avoid Infringement

It’s necessary to think of IP in two ways. Firstly, whether you will be infringing on someone else’s intellectual property rights. Secondly, whether someone else is infringing on your rights.

Doing searches of various kinds and registering rights is key to protecting inventions and names. As it’s necessary to protect your turf against copycats, disputes can arise all too easily, so you need help to manage and resolve them, even if that doesn’t involve a last resort of using the court process.

Typically, not owning copyright to something important in your business is undesirable. This could result in the sale of your business falling through.

To protect IP involves implementing a range of legal agreements, not just when you’re setting up a new website, or licensing your IP or selling products and services online, but also as you grow the business. It becomes even more important with growth of a business to have good agreements in place that protect your intellectual property.

Protecting a new name, software and other assets against copying of all kinds, or an invention that could be patentable are reasons to deal with IP. It’s what makes your business valuable.

So going back to the question I started with, whether IP is frightening, it’s not IP that is the problem so much as ignorance of something important in business.

We are still at the early stages of the digital economy, but the more digital our lives become the more essential it is to get a good understanding of IP and protect your business. Start by having an intellectual property assessment and advice. We provide this at Azrights.

podcast_shireen_smith

Legally Branded Podcast – Why Is Failing to Capture Your Intellectual Property a Costly Problem

podcast_shireen_smithHave you successfully captured your intellectual property? Why is failing to do so a costly problem? Let’s look in more detail at the disastrous consequences of failing to capture your IP.

Click to Listen to Legally Branded podcast.

Topics Discussed in this Episode:

  • Why it’s not enough to simply register a trade mark
  • Why it’s important to take great care of trade marks
  • Why failing to address IP can result in lost opportunities
  • What to do when you discover gaps in your trade mark protection

 

Key Takeaways:

  • It is surprisingly easy to overlook the importance of IP in the early stages of the creative process. Some people believe that tasks like choosing a business name for a new product or service do not involve legal considerations, that they can pick any name, do a check on Google, and if nothing untoward is found, proceed to use the name.
  • It’s actually trade marks that govern ownership rights in names, so it’s essential to search the trade mark registers. A Google search is not enough. Not everything you need to know about a name shows up on Google.  People risk losing everything overnight when they use names that don’t take account of registered trade marks of others.
  • Online searching has its place but it’s no substitute for information focused on transforming ideas into reality. While there’s a wealth of information on the web, a crucial issue when it comes to intellectual property advice online is that much of what you find is generic, sometimes outdated, inaccurate, conflicting, and may vary depending on where you’re based.

 

Action Steps:

  • If you’re an inventor, writer, coach, marketer, creative or entrepreneur, you need to know how to identify the various IP rights you’ll be creating as you turn ideas into reality. Some basic tools at your fingertips will help you take initial steps to protect IP like doing due diligence.
  • When you have new ideas to implement, you’ll need to know the right actions to take, the right processes to use to protect IP that’s being created.
  • If you discover gaps in your trade mark protection, find out how to address them with the help of education and DIY. And consult a lawyer if you have remaining questions.

 

Shireen said:

“The internet has revolutionised the way we look for information, entertainment, and even relationships… So it’s increasingly common for businesses to look for legal advice online, too.”

 

“If you don’t know what you don’t know, how can you search for it or know whether you’ve found out everything you need to know? …You need to learn to do things properly if you’re going to do your own trademark registration.”

 

Thank you for listening!

 

Look into my Legally Branded Academy Course to guide you along the way to a successful implementation of ideas and save yourself significant amounts of time doing your own researches!

 

If you have any questions, connect with me on your preferred social media platform. I’d love to help! And if you’ve learned from this series of podcasts, do consider leaving a review.

 

Links to my books and online courses:

  • Books:

 

More from Shireen Smith:

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Shireen’s LinkedIn

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Azrights

 

Copyright Protection of an App

The way copyright works to protect an app provides useful insights into copyright generally. Essentially, the important point to hold onto about copyright is that the default rules mean that the creator of the app will be the owner of the copyright in it rather than you the person who pays for the development work.

Therefore, an important first step before you select the right developer is to make sure they will be happy to give you a copyright in the end product.

However, don’t just have a verbal agreement on this point as that’s not enough under the law. You’ll need to reflect this in writing and also have a good development agreement in place. That agreement should clearly specify what is the be developed, the phases of the development, the payment plan, and how to resolve any disputes that may arise. Don’t agree to terms that only give you copyright when the project is concluded and you’ve paid for it. If for any reason you need to part company with the developer before then, you will want to have the source code and all rights in the work so you can find another developer to finish the work.

It’s also important to be mindful about the limitations of copyright protection. Copyright protects the expression of an idea rather than an idea itself.

This means that if I publish a recipe for how to make rabbit pie, my copyright in the recipe isn’t going to prevent you or anyone else from making the rabbit pie using my recipe. You would not be infringing my copyright in doing so.

If, on the other hand, you copied my recipe and distributed it to others, then my rights would be infringed because copyright protects the way I’ve expressed my idea. The law gives the copyright owner the exclusive right to copy the recipe in order to distribute it to others.

Translating that into how copyright protects an app means that if someone sees your app and decides they can do better than you, say you’re Magic Cabs and an Uber comes along, looks at your app, and thinks, this is a good idea, I’ll also develop an app along similar lines, they can do so without infringing your copyright. The only way they would be infringing your copyright is if they actually copied the code of your app. But if they got the idea from seeing your app and then go away and implemented the idea in their own way they would not be infringing your copyright.

So, when you have an idea for a new app bear in mind that innovation alone is no guarantee of success. You need to do thorough research, set your marketing strategy, and consider how best to develop the app to meet a market need. You can achieve a strong barrier to entry with the name you use for your app if it’s well conceived and addresses a market need. Be sure to pay close attention to the intellectual property rights around names before you buy domain names.

Raising investment

If you need to raise investment, while you may believe your idea is unique, bear in mind that investors will often be approached by numerous start-ups, some of whom may have very similar apps. So, don’t make the fundamental error of asking them to sign a non-disclosure or confidentiality agreement to look at your app idea.  You need to have taken all the necessary steps to protect your idea before you turn to investors. There should at least be a proof of concept for them to see, and if yours is a product that could be patented, then you need to file the patent-pending application before discussing the idea with third parties. Only confidential ideas that are not in the public domain are patentable.

So, once you’re ready to discuss your idea with investors you should be in a position to do it openly without need of NDAs.

Essentially, there is no guaranteed formula for success. There will be aspects to your business plan which you cannot control, yet they may have a great impact on your chances of success. Factors include national and global economic climate, geographic location, trends in popular culture, access to valuable contacts. Plain old luck also plays a part.

 Obtaining financing is not necessarily about the technical feasibility or the originality of the idea itself.  Sometimes, it can be more about you as a person, and whether you are aware of the qualities and skill sets needed to convince the right people to support you.

Private investors (also known as Venture Capitalists or Angel Investors) take a lot of interest in the make-up of the team. Often, they are very interested in the people that are backing the idea. They are predominately looking for a person who, as one investor put it, has the ‘disease of entrepreneurism’. For most investors, the personal dimension is so important that they would even invest in an average idea if the people were right. This suggests that if you’re looking for financial backing for your app, you should have entrepreneur drive, and some of the key skills that potential investors will look for in you are inventiveness; creative ability; the ability to package and communicate ideas. Without this, it is difficult to get the necessary investor confidence.

Conclusion 

This blog has highlighted how copyright works, what it does and doesn’t protect, and the importance of first protecting your idea before turning to investors for funding.

Given the traits investors will look for before investing in your ideas, there are areas of self-development to consider if your vision is for something big. Focus on developing some key qualities, such as leading a team, which is essential for success in business. You’ll need to ‘re-invent’ yourself or find the right team to work with who can make up skills that may be lacking in you.

Legally Branded Podcast – Intellectual Property: The Challenges of Protecting Ideas

podcast_shireen_smithEven if an idea involves creating something tangible, the product resulting from that idea has many components, which are intangibles, that are necessary to its existence. So if you happen to have a great idea, how do you protect it? In this episode, find out how you can address the challenges of protecting intellectual property.

Click to Listen to Legally Branded podcast.

Topics Discussed in this Episode:

  • The challenges of protecting intellectual property
  • The best way to begin to address intellectual property
  • How to reduce the legal costs
  • The intangibles and their impact
  • How to make it easier to build management of IP in the day to day running of your venture

 

Key Takeaways:

  • For many people, an idea is their key to economic success. Therefore, being able to protect its resulting output as intellectual property is crucial if the business is to grow in value.
  • People assume that they automatically own intellectual property, but this is not true. An action is required to turn an idea into IP.
  • Leveraging IP is how the value embedded in it is realised.
  • A new venture, when it’s just in your head, that’s when you need to understand the risks and opportunities.
  • The best way to achieve success and avoid wasting unnecessary time and energy down the line is to learn the essentials of trademark and other intellectual property that are involved when turning ideas into something that’s out in the real world.
  • Intangible assets cannot be measured unless they are managed.
  • For any new venture, the time to think about IP protection and intangibles is when writing the business plan. And the business plan, when it’s written, should set the strategy on IP matters.

 

Action Steps:

  • To avoid losing an opportunity and create valuable intellectual property, first identify what it is you’re going to create, what actions you need to take to capture it and, depending on the IP in question, what other actions you need to take.
  • Conduct proper checks of trademark registers. It’s also possible to create a liability instead of an asset where proper checks of trademarks registers aren’t first undertaken.
  • Consider IP really early on in the early stages of a project. Get a good understanding of IP and eliminate the risks that dealing with IP in a piecemeal fashion has.
  • Focus on the intangibles. This is the way you can preserve the investment of your business in its brand, creative efforts, design, and technology.

 

Shireen said:

“The name of the game with intellectual property is to be proactive in the early stages of any project when turning an idea into something concrete in the real world.”

 

“IP knowledge and skills are how you protect yourself. And even if you intend to use a lawyer, you need to know some of it yourself. It’s just not an option to not understand intellectual property in this day and age.”

 

Thank you for listening!

 

Look into my Legally Branded Academy Course to upskill yourself and your team, and discover the roadmap for a successful implementation of ideas! It’s not an alternative to use lawyers, it’s simply equipping YOU with the business skills in today’s digital economy.

 

To access the free audio on How to Trademark a Name, subscribe to this podcast and download all the past episodes, and send an email to [email protected] saying what time of day you did so.

 

Connect with me on your preferred social media platform. And if you’ve learned from this series of podcasts, do consider leaving a review.

 

Links to my books and online courses:

  • Books:

 

More from Shireen Smith:

Shireen’s Facebook Page

Shireen’s Twitter

Shireen’s Instagram

Shireen’s LinkedIn

Shireen’s YouTube

Shireen’s Website

Legally Branded Podcast – Copyright Ownership

podcast_shireen_smithWhat exactly is Copyright? It’s a basic, fundamental question that people often ask me. In this episode, I dive into copyright essentials in order to address gaps in your knowledge of copyright or any confusion you might have around particular facets of the subject.

Click to Listen to Legally Branded podcast.

Topics Discussed in this Episode:

  • Examples of copyright
  • Reasons why you might want to have copyright.
  • Some ideas on how to avoid some common copyright problems.

 

Key Takeaways:

  • Copyright is one of the core three IP rights that impact every single business and is very wide-ranging in scope.
  • Examples of what copyright protects include photographs, images, maps, drawings, typefaces, music, films, works of art and performances, software, books, videos, content on websites and logos.
  • Copyright is highly relevant in today’s digital environment because most of the ways that businesses operate involve creating different copyright assets.
  • In countries like the UK and former Commonwealth countries like the USA, Australia and New Zealand, it’s not necessary for a work to display a high degree of originality in order to qualify for copyright protection.
  • Names are not, as a rule, protected by copyright under the law. Instead, they are covered by trademark law.
  • A copyright work is an asset. If you don’t own the copyright of an asset that you use in your business, it means you’re licensing that work effectively.
  • Copyright automatically belongs to the creator and not to the person who’s paying for it. The only exception is if a contract states otherwise or if the work is undertaken for you by your employee during the normal scope of their duties.
  • Content online is not in the public domain.

 

Action Steps:

  • If you’re from a copyright-dependent industry, find out a lot more about copyright.
  • Copyright should be an uppermost consideration. Make sure that the works you’re having created will belong to you. And if they’re not going to belong to you, then make sure you negotiate all the necessary permissions that you’re going to need for your intended use of that copyright work before you commit to using someone’s services.
  • If you engage someone to do work for you, such as to build a website, before you engage their services and give them your best ideas, make sure your written agreement with them covers copyright ownership.
  • Find out what the copyright rules say in your country and how they impact your plans. In an increasingly global marketplace where it’s quite common to engage the services of freelancers based in other parts of the world, you should agree which country’s laws will govern your contracts.
  • Don’t leave copyright discussions for later. Pay close attention to define details at the start of a project.
  • Don’t assume that your web designer or other professionals whose services you engage know what materials or images they may or may not use. Do your own verifications.

 

Shireen said:

“Strategic use of intellectual property makes a big difference to a business’ fortunes. So IP is a very important consideration in any venture, whether you’re starting, growing, or exiting a business.”

 

“Think of copyright as you might think of a plot of land… The copyright owner is the person who has the right to exploit the rights in their assets, just as the landowner can exploit the rights in their land.”

 

Thank you for listening!

 

It’s really worth having a process in place in your business to cover off the copyright risks that you run. A really easy way to do this is to buy my Legally Branded Academy Course. It has everything you’ll need to address these copyright risks as well as cover other IP issues to bear in mind in your business.

 

To access the free audio on How to Trademark a Name, subscribe to this podcast and download all the past episodes, and send an email to [email protected] saying what time of day you did so.

 

Connect with me on your preferred social media platform. And if you’ve learned from this series of podcasts, do consider leaving a review.

 

Links to my books and online courses:

 

More from Shireen Smith:

Shireen’s Facebook Page

Shireen’s Twitter

Shireen’s Instagram

Shireen’s LinkedIn

Shireen’s YouTube

Shireen’s Website

Intellectual Property Revolution – Book Launch – Video Highlights

IP Revolution Book Launch 1

The Intellectual Property Revolution, my second book, was launched with great success on 13 October 2015 at the Institute of Directors in London.

For those of you who were unable to attend the event the next best thing is to watch the videos of the night.

Daniel Priestley of Entrevo, who runs a global entrepreneurship accelerator programme known as Key Person of Influence (that I myself have attended) gave the introductions for the night.

He also took us through the ages pointing out that at one time it was ownership of land that enabled people to build fortunes, these people built themselves a reputation and became influential. Then after this agricultural age came the industrial revolution where people built their fortunes by  owning the means of production. In the digital economy it is intellectual property that is the means to building fortunes. He said millennials would rather spend all their time and money to build start-ups  than purchasing houses or land.

 

Next up was Will Critchlow of Distilled, CEO of a digital marketing agency based in London with offices in the USA. He reinforced the importance of using the right name and protecting intellectual property rights very early on, an issue he himself had encountered at the early stages of his business ventures while at school. Intellectual Property, in particular securing a trade mark helps provide businesses big or small with strong foundations to securely expand and build a reputation they establish. This will strengthen branding strategies becoming real investments rather than failing later on.

 

 

Then finally, I spoke about the importance of taking early IP advice in order to position yourself for maximum value if you succeed, and reduce the risk of disaster. When overlooked, IP can be damaging to the core features of any business. For example, a poor choice of name can be a real set back. This is something I discuss in more detail in my blog Intellectual Property Value – Do You Need Specialist Skills to Value IP?

IP is so important to any business, as the internet now dominates our daily lives, it is the ownership of these intangibles which is so necessary to protect. At Azrights, we offer a fixed price service that provides early stage businesses with comprehensive advice concerning Intellectual Property rights and strategic building of them.

 

There was a chance for guests to mingle over canapes and here are some vox pox and highlights of the event. The vox pox discussions give some insight into why attendees believe IP is so important in today’s society.

While the highlights below will give you a general flavour of the eventful evening.

Since the launch, I have revised the conclusion of the book, as this was a chapter I struggled to write last year. At the time, I wanted to finish the book so I used something. However, having had time to  reflect over the festive period, I have changed the conclusion, and am now very happy that the book will be an easy, insightful read for businesses interested in IP.

The new conclusion fits much better with the book as a whole being a kind of synopsis of the book and summarises the transformative effects of Intellectual Property rights. If you don’t have time to read the whole book, you’d now get a strong indication of what the book is all about by reading just the conclusion and perhaps revisiting the book when time allows.

Battle of the Bands

Entertainment_jpgTrademarks can be one of the most significant of IP rights as a recent case involving the band Wishbone Ash  demonstrates.

The band was popular in the 1970s, and as often happens with bands, members came and went, so that eventually Andy Powell was the last man standing from the original group. He nurtured a new team so that the Wishbone Ash band still performs under that name. He registered the name as a European Community trademark. Then a former band member, Martin Turner set up a new band under the name calling his band Martin Turner’s Wishbone Ash. So, Andy Powell successfully applied for an injunction to stop the use of the name Wishbone Ash. Martin Turner is apparently appealing the court’s decision. The judge awarded Andy Powell more than £40,000 in costs and has ordered Martin Turner to deliver up all flyers, CD covers and other material which bears the Wishbone Ash name.

Over on Azrights trademark registration blog we recently reported the Nestle v Cadbury case which demonstrates how difficult it can be to secure trademark protection for colours. We also discussed the lessons to be learned from the Duffins trademark case about what to do during product creation in order to protect your brand.

 

Licensing – Don’t Risk Losing Your Trademark

Licensing – Don’t Risk Losing Your Trademark

If your business has reached the stage where you are looking to expand abroad or diversify into different markets, licensing your brand could be the ideal way of achieving this.

With licensing, it doesn’t matter if you haven’t the staff or the money to fund your expansion. You license your brand to a third party that already has the staff and resources available within the target market in which you wish to expand.

The positives are many: it can be a lucrative move and can generate additional revenue for your business; it can increase your brand awareness; and it can help create new products for your brand without running the risk of failure on your part.

Licensing

Licensing Without Controls

However, licensing has its downsides, too, which can be exacerbated if you don’t manage your licensing effectively. One of the biggest concerns to be aware of is loss of control. So, whilst licensing can boost your brand’s strength, it could equally damage your brand’s reputation.

This is the risk you run if a third party is licensed to use your brand without any restrictions. It’s not just your brand’s reputation that could be damaged; in some cases, a lack of monitoring on how a third party is using your brand name could result in you losing the rights over the name.

Eva’s Bridal Shop

Take the case of Eva’s Bridal Shop in Chicago . In 1966, Eva Sweis opened a bridal shop under the brand name, Eva’s Bridal. The brand built a reputation for providing top quality goods and services. Eva obtained trademark rights in that name.

The trademark was used for generations; friends and family were allowed to set up bridal shops under the Eva’s Bridal label. But in 2007, Eva’s Bridal attempted to take legal action against a former licensee for trademark infringement as he was using the trademark after the license had expired. On the surface, this appeared a fairly simple case of infringement.

However, the original licence agreement exerted no control over the way the trademark was used, and the court ruled that this therefore eliminated Eva Bridal’s trademark rights in that name.

This is because licences over a trademark granted without any regulations or restrictions, are considered to be abandoning the trademark, no matter how long you may have previously had the rights over it.

Therefore, it is vital to ensure when you license a trademark to a third party, it is  not just an agreement stipulating how much you are licensing a trademark for, but also to ensure you have control over the way the trademark is used.

Trademark as a Symbol of Trust

Trademarks are there primarily to indicate to the public the origin of goods, and to protect them from confusion. It enables the public to rely on a brand as a signifier of quality, or standard, and is a symbol of trust.

Therefore, if you are planning on licensing your business, be sure to introduce quality controls, and limit the distributor’s rights to sub-license the trademark.

How to License Effectively

The first consideration when approaching a licence agreement is to describe what is being licensed, and to take account of the extent of your trademark portfolio. What specific products or services are covered and in which geographical areas? Who will be responsible for filing further trademarks, and who will bear the cost of these?

As a general rule, it’s important for you, the licensor, to retain responsibility for the trademark registration. The licence will be for a specific period of time and may impose a number of conditions. In return, the licensee agrees to pay you royalties and is willing to do so because you have something that’s popular.

Licensing can be an invaluable tool to some business owners wishing to expand their brand, so, it is essential to make sure that licensing helps rather than hinders your business.

If you have had any experiences of licensing which you would be willing to share, I’d love it if you left a comment below.

Copyright Protection: How to Manage Copyright in an Unregulated Space

‘I have endeavoured in this Ghostly little book, to raise the Ghost of an Idea, which shall not put my readers out of humour with themselves, with each other, with the season, or with me. May it haunt their houses pleasantly, and no one wish to lay it.’ – Charles Dickens

Dickens’ ‘A Christmas Carol’ is a tale of generosity, giving, and a story often attributed to reigniting the Victorian Christmas spirit at a time when it had started to wane. Indeed, it has been attributed as being partly responsible for the way we celebrate Christmas today.

Dickens and ‘Piracy’

When it was published the book was an immediate success, selling six thousand copies on the first few days of sales. However, despite the book’s success, Dickens did not make much money out of it in part because his work suffered at the hand of ‘pirates’.

Unlike today, copyright laws in the Victorian times did not give protection in countries outside of where a work was first produced and created. Therefore after ‘A Christmas Carol’ was published, copies started popping up abroad in America, produced by publishing houses very cheaply.  They gave Dickens absolutely no financial benefit.

Berne Convention

As the world continues to change, laws, and in this instance copyright laws, sometimes take a while to adapt to the new problems these changes present. It was not until 1893, 50 years after the publication of ‘A Christmas Carol’, that the Berne Convention was created to give authors copyright protection over their work abroad as well as in the country in which the work was created

Copyright in the Internet Age

However, even though nowadays owners of copyrighted work no longer have to worry about the lack of control over work being produced abroad, there is a new challenge that has not yet been solved by current copyright laws: the Internet.

Your company might not be looking to create the next ‘A Christmas Carol’, but content your company produces may still be extremely valuable for the business – yet the Internet can make it difficult to ensure that people don’t misuse your copyrighted content.

Sometimes when the laws have not caught up with advances in technology, it is an unfortunate reality that there is little you can do in practice to tackle infringement, beyond prevention.

You can campaign for changes in the law (as Dickens tried to do in the Victorian times), or hope that there will be a way for the law to better protect your work or content.  However, sometimes the best that you can do is to understand how to benefit from the work you produce in the unregulated world of the Internet, despite the fact that some people may take advantage of your work and infringe your copyright.

The ‘Freemium’ Business Model

An important factor in building success online is attracting customers to your website. And in this Internet age one of the main things people are looking for is information, meaning that freely available and useful online content can be vital in achieving online success.

Giving information away for free can actually prove financially beneficial in unexpected ways. For Dickens, despite the fact he did not make money in the US from selling copies of his book, when he went over there to visit he discovered that he had a large fan base, and managed to make a good amount of money from giving readings of his works.

This just goes to show that just because the law might not adequately protect your copyrighted content from pirates; it does not always mean your company will suffer. Some successful bands have also profited from giving material away for free.  For example, Radiohead decided to allow customers to decide how much they paid for their album ‘In Rainbows’. And The Grateful Dead managed to create a devoted following and generate $60 million a year through their unorthodox approach to protecting their intellectual property, such as by allowing audiences to tape their concerts.

Managing Your Copyright Online

However, if you are concerned about keeping your copyright protected, here are some tips that might help:

  • Before publishing content online, evaluate what the consequences might be for your business if someone copied your content
  • Consider using measures like backlink, Google Alerts or copyscape.com to help you track down people who copy your site’s content.
  • If you know the Internet Protocol (IP) address of a copyright infringer, you can ban them from using your website (although they could still get round this by changing their IP address).

If you want to learn more about how to protect copyright or other IP online, buy a copy of Legally Branded. You can download free chapter of the book here.

This post was co-authored by Chloe Smith

Don’t Be Alarmed By Fake Facebook Copyright Notice

Have you seen this message circulating around on Facebook recently?

Facebook has consistently been plagued by privacy and copyright concerns and this is not the first message of its kind to have gone viral in this way. However, just like those before it, this notice is a hoax and not something to be alarmed about. Although it claims to provide those who post it with greater control of material they post on Facebook, this message will do nothing of the sort.

These notices started proliferating online shortly after Facebook adjusted its privacy guidelines, to remove users’ voting rights on Facebook policies, instead just allowing users to comment on any changes.

The post also claims that Facebook’s new status as an ‘open capital entity’ should be an extra incentive for users to circulate the message.  However, neither of these recent changes made any tangible difference to Facebook’s copyright and privacy policies, and even if they had, simply posting this message on your Facebook wall will do nothing in the way of protecting your copyright.

When you sign up to Facebook you agree to their terms and conditions, and unless you renegotiate them, or delete your account, you will still be bound by this agreement regardless of any messages you may post.

For those concerned about Facebook’s policy, you can find it here.

The main thing to remember, is that if you post any content covered by IP rights on Facebook, you grant it a ‘non-exclusive, transferable, sub-licensable, royalty-free, worldwide license to use any IP content that you post on or in connection with Facebook’.

This basically means that you give Facebook the permission to use, and share with 3rd parties any IP content without the need for a license or to pay fees.  Crucially, this license is subject to your Facebook privacy and application settings – so in fact, you are more in control of your content than you might realise.  Beyond simply deciding not to share content through Facebook, you can finely tune your privacy settings to choose who can see the things you post

It is also important to appreciate that you don’t need a special notice to control copyright in your posts.  The message itself references the ‘Berner Convention’, which is presumably meant to say Berne Convention, according to which the original creator of a work is automatically the copyright holder. So even if you grant Facebook the right to use things you post, these rights are by no means exclusive and will have no bearing on how you display or distribute it by your own means.

You can now hear it straight from the horse’s mouth, as Facebook have posted an official, concise response to the notice on their website here:

Copyright Meme Spreading on Facebook

There is a rumor circulating that Facebook is making a change related to ownership of users’ information or the content they post to the site. This is false. Anyone who uses Facebook owns and controls the content and information they post, as stated in our terms. They control how that content and information is shared. That is our policy, and it always has been.