Intellectual Property (IP) plays a vital role in all fields equipped with creativity, including those surfacing in the digital realm. Content creators and promoters on the internet have recently grown exponentially in reputation to the extent that the influencer marketing industry is expected to account for $15 billion by the end of 2023. At present, it accounts for about 15% of the total revenue spent on advertising globally.
Understanding the Essentials of Intellectual Property Rights (IPRs)
A content creator is any person who contributes information to any kind of media in a specific context. The act of generating content or information could range from any digital platform being a personalized blog or a social media platform like Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, etc. It is pertinent to take shelter under the law dealing with IP to safeguard such creativity from unauthorized use. The IP vested in a subject matter gives the proprietor the sole authority to reproduce and distribute the work and supervise and control how it is utilized by others.
To broadly categorize rights and understand each category, we can demarcate IP as follows:
- Copyright is a type of IP that protects original creative works, such as photographs, videos, texts, cinematographic films, etc. Copyright is very vital in the context of content creators since they are required to have permission in place before utilizing others’ creative works. In some instances, all that is available on the internet may not be protected as copyright, but on the contrary, it may require obtaining a license.
- Trademarks are deployed to identify, classify, and indicate the source of one’s goods and services to differentiate them from others. Creators must obtain the consent of the proprietor of a trademark before displaying the same on their social media handles.
- A domain name refers to the online identity of an entity or a business. Even domain names can be registered as trademarks. Once registered, the proprietor of the same has all the legal rights that are vested in any other trademark. Therefore, it is essential to never infringe upon any other entity’s or person’s domain name by using the same to propagate or incentivize one’s label.
It is imperative to be aware of the rights that may be vested via the said category of rights for not getting involved in legal feuds while using the IP assets reserved by others. However, besides the points mentioned above, it is also necessary for content creators to equip themselves with IP other than just watching out for works authored by the IP holders. In this context, let us understand the Intellectual Property Rights (IPRs) for content creators.
Why Understand & Invest in IP At All?
As discussed, IP enables to restrict and curb any form of unauthorized use. In addition to the same, it also helps in the following aspects:
- IP helps distinguish one’s business from that of his competitors through legal safety nets and protections.
- It protects a company’s branding and marketing strategies from direct and indirect imitation.
- One can keep his company’s legal transactions, such as partnerships and loans, private through IP.
- It allows protecting one’s company name and assets from being misused by others who create counterfeits or pirated versions of the originals.
Checklist for Content Creators
- Awareness of Social Media: While a content creator assumes an identity on a social media platform, it is necessary to give in to certain contractual obligations as per the terms and conditions of the said portal. For instance, when a content creator signs up for Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter, the said social media platform is given the license to handle the creator’s data. Therefore, it is necessary to read through the contract and disclaimers, which are conveniently avoided and skipped.
- Public Disclaimer of Your Rights: While the content creator utilizes a particular social media platform, the creator must make the public know that the said work, although published and made available to the public, is the intellectual asset owned by the creator. Hence, it is encouraged that one adds the © symbol at a conspicuous place where the publishing is done and mentions the name and date of creation alongside it as well.
- Using Watermarks & Adjusting Resolutions: While posting images, it is a brilliant alternative to use digital watermarks equipped with the trademark or trade name of the creator’s handle. Also, if a creator wishes to limit the scope of infringement and illicit copying, lowering the resolution of photographs and videos can certainly be beneficial since it would keep the infringers at bay as lower resolution means there is a limited scope of editing and utilizing it as a derivative work.
- Awareness about Creative Commons Licenses: Creative Commons is a global Non-Profit Organization (NPO) that provides free legal tools to safeguard and enable the distribution and recreation of content and knowledge. These tools aid in standardizing the use and allocation of content on the internet. Creative Commons affiliates warrant that all the users recognize the work and impact of these licenses. We shall look into this in greater detail in the next section.
Delving Into Licenses: The Alternate Mode of Protecting Your Creation
A much easier way to manage one’s content is by adopting any of the six CC licenses. Each of these licenses imposes different restrictions concerning the aspects of adaptability, distribution, and reproducibility. These can be categorized as follows:
- Attribution (CC BY) – This kind of license is the least restrictive and the most accommodating. It enables content creators to distribute, remix, adapt, and build upon their work, even commercially, as long as they only credit them for the original creation. Therefore, any individual seeking to use a content creator’s original work safeguarded by the said license has to acknowledge and mention the creator’s name.
- Attribution Share-A-Like (CC BY-SA) – This license is similar to ‘copyleft.’ It essentially allows content creators to use the work of others as long as they use the identical copyright terms that were adopted by the original creator of the work. It implies that others must credit the creator and allow the creation to be freely distributed, remixed, adapted, and built upon without any restrictions. Any individual seeking to use the content governed by this license is thereby restricted to not add any additional license restrictions in the sharing of the work.
- Attribution No Derivatives (CC BY-ND) – Any person can reuse the content commercially through this license; however, the extent of use is restricted. A person cannot remix or adapt or transform or build upon the content into something else as the modified material is not distributable. For example, you cannot rearrange or edit a video under this license. But you can share or reuse the same on another website as long as you appropriately credit the original owner by providing a link to the license.
- Attribution-Non-Commercial – This license permits others to remix, tweak, and build upon the original work non-commercially while ensuring acknowledgment of the original creator. However, the licensee does not have to license his derivative works under the same terms and conditions.
- Attribution Non-Commercial (CC BY-NC-SA) – Under this license, any person can remix, tweak, and adapt the work by acknowledging the original creator, and thereby, use it for non-commercial purposes only. Also, the work derived from the original content has to be licensed under identical terms. Non-commercial purposes entail activities where the content wouldn’t be monetized and may generate almost little or no profit. For instance, the content cannot be utilized for pursuing a project involving paid advertising or selling packages with the content printed on them as it would lead to commercialization of the content.
- Attribution Non-Commercial No Derivatives (CC BY-NC-ND) – This license combines CC BY-NC-SA and CC BY-NC-ND. It is permissible to reuse and share the content made available; however, the license restricts any type of amends, remixes, or adaptation of the content in any other form. In addition to this, the content also cannot be used in commercial parlance. It is the most restrictive type of license compared to the previously mentioned licenses and is often used when the creator is using the content under this license officially and primarily for commercial purposes.
Content creation is a trending industry with lucrative returns, and since the veracity of a content creator lies in content only, it is understood that creative content of all kinds must be protected from imitations and illicit copying. There is the traditional IP route; however, where the expense and strategy permit, the alternate course of licensing may also be preferred. It solely depends on the extent and scope of use of a particular piece of content and the prospective strategy one has in mind to build upon his assets. Therefore, having an adequate understanding of IPRs and licenses regulating the digital realm is crucial for all content creators alike.
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