So a couple of weeks ago I posted an article called “inspiration and imitation” which you can have a read about “here” if you missed it. Anyway in the article I talked about recent happenings in the creative world where a fellow designer had a collection of her own personal designs copied/mimicked/imitated by an established department store here in the uk .
It really made me think about how much we really know about protecting our practice and I became really determined to find the answers to share with you. Note : I visited the business innovation centre attending a copyright and IP workshop with a legal attorney present specialising in copyright ( I asked him plenty of questions poor guy haha ) aswell as approached some fellow creatives with experience to present to you some answers.
What are our grounds in creative copyright?
As soon as an artwork , illustration or design is completed to a finished form it is instantly then copyright protected to yourself the creator , unless in a creative commission you state in the contract that you are selling the rights to a design or artwork within the commission.
What can small creative businesses do to protect themselves?
There’s a couple of things you can do to raise awareness of your copyright such as adding © symbols with your name / date or a tailored logo watermark onto your digital artwork if you are presenting them online in a gallery, website or blog.
In terms of documenting protection it was recommended that a designer or artist seals a copy of their completed artwork in a brown envelope which is then dated ( some people recommended mailing it to yourself) and keep it safely stored as a sort of evidence to legally present that you created piece x on x date.
What steps to take if you find a piece of your art has been misused?
There are some really useful online tools such as google image search or tineye where you can upload digital files of your artwork that are then sourced across the internet finding where this image or similar has been used. If you do find someone has used your artwork without permission then the first thing to do is to write them a formal email/letter stating you’ve identified that they have misused your work ( maybe you could add screenshots as proof).
Ask them to please remove the artwork as it is infringing your copyright and if this still persists then send them a cease and desist letter.I was told that if a piece of work has been used without permission and the above steps have met no resolution then the only steps left to take are 1 . Making the evaluation whether it would be worth your time/ money pursuing further and 2. Investing in legal help.
There are some cases though where creatives have also used social media tools such as twitter or facebook to bring attention of their issues of copyright infringement to both the infringing party and their personal following ( though I can’t state how much this has implemented things it can help and raise a level of support backing your corner).
Last but not least there is an association called A ©id (anti copying in design) who with subscription offer legal advice and a design registration to register your work , however I have little personal experience with this company in particular so can’t speak to much on how they can further help creatives at this moment in time.
If any of your have more to add to this topic in particular, questions or have experiences to share yourselves then please comment below it would be great to hear from you!