Copyright is a type of intellectual property right. that every business uses, and needs to know about.
Every business has a logo, website, brochures, photographs, packaging, software, and more. These are all subject to copyright law.
Only the copyright owner is entitled to grant permission to others to use or copy their copyright materials. Copyright licensing underlies the use of images, music, lyrics, content for books, software and more.
Licensing is the way in which the use of a copyright work is controlled by the owners who receive royalties in return for giving you permission to use that work.
Ownership of Copyright
Ownership of copyright could be critical to your success as a business. Unless you get advice and are strategic about it, you risk not following the necessary steps to secure copyright every time you have work created for you. This means your business may not be protected, and may not own copyright in some key assets.
Copyright potentially unlocks additional revenue streams, so getting copyright issues right could increase the value of your business.
There are many myths about copyright which are traps for the unwary.
How one Business Lost the Opportunity to Exploit its Software
For example, one business-Â CML – commissioned software from Business Linx, with the intention of licensing other businesses in their industry to use it. It was likely to be popular. They assumed that as they were paying for the software to be developed they would automatically own it. However, unfortunately for CML, the contract with Business Linx didn’t give them copyright ownership. So, they had nothing to sell. They found this out too late – once the software had already been developed. All they had was the right to use the software for their own internal business. Business Linx, the developer, who had got all the business information to build the software from CML, was the one who could sell the software. They were free to market it to CML’s competitors and others.
If only CML had taken IP advice and looked at the contract more closely.
Be Strategic about Copyright Ownership
You should always be strategic about ownership of copyright. Make sure you have a written contract with freelancers, and agencies, and scrutinize the contracts to check that you are getting the rights you need, and avoid infringing on other people’s rights too.
And if you develop copyright works for others, make sure you carefully consider your strategy so you don’t lose business, and yet increase the value of your business. You don’t necessarily have to give your copyright away, and nor do you need to alienate your potential client. The key is to discuss licensing terms so you both get what you need from the arrangement.
In the CML example, an appropriate deal might have given Business Linx copyright ownership, while CML could have received the exclusive rights to sell the software. Or perhaps CML might have also allowed Business Linx to sell the software, but only if they agreed not to sell the software to CML’s competitors, or for a period of time, or in certain geographic areas. In this way they could have both benefited from the arrangement. As it was, Business Linx secured a huge advantage at CML’s expense.