Creativity is a beautiful thing. Graphic designers, writers, and web designers are constantly in high demand all across the globe. However, being a professional full-time creative or freelance creative also has its pitfalls. Copyright infringement is rife in the creative industry. Whether you’re working from the comfort of your home or in a corporate office, you may experience having your work stolen. Moreover, many violations can take place when clients don’t pay for work but continue to publish work anyway. Alternatively, indefensible dealing can happen when intellectual property is sourced directly from freelancer portfolios without permission.
Copyright Infringement | Tips for Freelancers & Creatives
- According to PayPal, 58% of creative freelancers have experienced not being paid by a client.
- When pursuing copyright infringement cases through the court of law, creative people and freelancers can expect to fork out $125 to $500 per hour for legal representation.
- For the most part, instances of intellectual property theft can be remedied merely by contacting violators and pointing out that a violation has taken place.
The Importance of Using Copyrights for CreativesCopyright is a branch of intellectual property law. More specifically, one which protects the creators of digital media, books, articles, art, and music, from having work stolen or used inappropriately. As a creative, if you don’t copyright your work, anyone with access can use or redistribute your work as they please. In one famous example of what can happen when creatives don’t copyright protect material, South African author Shubnum Khan, posed for a free photo shoot in 2012. Since then, Khan’s image has been used to promote everything from cosmetic dentistry to big-name cosmetics brands. Sadly, Shubnum never secured rights concerning how her images can be used. In this case, Shubnum has no editorial control over her images and is never remunerated whenever her images are used in any way.
Here’s Where Copyright Infringement Becomes an IssueBecause Shubnum Khan did not copyright protect her images, third-parties who use them do so legally. Copyright infringement, therefore, only takes place when third parties ignore copyright protection which is in place and infringe on the rights of owners and creators of content accordingly.
How Big a Problem is Copyright Infringement?It can span from a small problem to a full-blown scale. The costs of pursuing intellectual property claims in court are often prohibitive for freelancers. However, earlier this year a PayPal survey found that 58% of workers have had their creativity undermined by clients who don’t pay. In most cases, freelance customers who don’t pay for work will use material anyway. Worse, many such customers engage in indefensible dealing. This is where work sourced from a designer is sold on to a third party client. (One who is unaware that work has been sourced fraudulently.)
How to Protect YourselfCopyright infringement has a large impact on those who depend on their creativity to make a living.
- Infringement and non-payment can play havoc with a creative freelancer’s finances.
- Not enforcing copyright protection of intellectual property can lead to repeat copyright violations.
- Repeat violations can have a detrimental impact on a creative person’s brand identity.
Protecting Your Existing PortfolioFreelancers and creatives often use portfolio websites to showcase their work. When publishing examples, creatives should always watermark designs.
- Branded watermarks can be added to any image using free online programs like Pixlr or Vectr.
- Video files can be watermarked by inserting credits and branded logos for every video scene.
- Sound and music files can be watermarked using tools like AG Watermark Generator.
- When publishing text online, platforms like WordPress can be configured to prevent page visitors from copying and pasting material.
Someone Is Infringing My Copyright – Now What Do I Do?By watermarking portfolio samples and deliveries, creatives can safeguard themselves from most common forms of copyright infringement. However, problems with unauthorized use and indefensible dealing can still arise.
- Creative industry clients may later reverse payment on delivered works.
- End users of content may start creating and selling unauthorized reproductions of delivered material.
- Delivered content may later be used in an inappropriate way out with of the terms stipulated before delivery.