It's best to stay as informed as possible and make sure your company sticks to the UK and international copyright laws, depending on where you operate.
It’s extremely important because it can directly affect your business. Copyright is the kind of thing that can come back to bite you later down the line if you don’t respect the law, or take steps to protect your own precious work.
Understanding copyright rules isn’t as complicated as you might think. We know a thing or two about copyright, and we act as a sort of ‘Brand Guardian’ for our clients, guiding them through every step of the process whilst having their best interests at heart. We can also help by sharing some of our tips, and explain what copyright is, so you feel better informed.
Copyright basics you need to know
According to the Intellectual Property Office, copyright is a right that is given to original work, such as musical, artistic, literary, dramatic and music works, and sound recordings, films, broadcasts and typographical arrangements.
This includes all digital work, like written content, website copy, videos, design work and creative projects. Copyright owners have complete control to do what they like with their own work, and they can also authorise external parties to use their work in a similar way by licence.
Basically, you can transfer the ownership of your copyright to other people, which is described as ‘assignment.’ The transfer of ownership is something WithBrand is happy to do for a negotiated fee if a client requires it.
It is important not to confuse ownership of a work with ownership of the copyright. For example, a person may have acquired an original copyright work, e.g. a painting, letter or photograph, but unless the copyright in it has also been transferred, it will remain with the creator.
Another example might be an author allowing their work to be used for a film, even though the film company may use their copy, they are still the copyright owner. The creator of an original copyright work is usually the first owner, and a single work can be created and owned by more than one person.
What aren’t you allowed to do with copyrighted work?
As well as what you can do with your own copyrighted work, you should be well informed about what you can’t do with other people’s work. In a digital world where everything is readily available, it can be tempting to borrow things like images from Google without getting permission or checking the copyright rules for that image, or referencing your source, but this is not a good idea. According to UK law, restricted acts related to copyright and using other people’s work include:
- Copying the work
- Issuing copies of the work to the public
- Renting or lending the work to the public
- Making an adaptation of the work
- Performing, showing or playing the work in public
- Communicating the work to the public
Protecting your work
It’s always best to have some specific information relating to copyright on your website and in your contracts. This will help protect you should an issue arise. For example, we have a section in our T’s & C’s specifically about our copyright policy. Take a look at it here. We are really flexible when it comes to copyright, but equally, we value the work that we produce and its copyright.
Choosing an agency that values copyright
When you work with us, we care about your company just as much as you do. By looking after a brand, brochure or website design copyright we can to act as a brand guardian for you. There are tangible benefits for commissioning a design agency that takes all issues surrounding copyright seriously.
If copyright is something that concerns you, we can take the weight off your shoulders, and help you to make sure your work is protected, ensuring you don’t cross any lines. We take a lot of pride in our work and take measures to protect its copyright, which means you won’t get design work which is devalued because its creator simply doesn’t care about it, and will freely transfer it to anyone.
It’s also handy to know a little about brand licensing. We will follow up on this in another blog post soon, but here’s some info on the basics for now. Licensing, in a nutshell, is the renting of an intangible asset. The entity in question may then be used in conjunction with a product, and there are different types of brand licensing.
Consultancy and design
*Please note this is not legal advice, should you have copyright concerns it’s best to seek your own legal advice.*
UK Trademark - https://www.gov.uk/topic/intellectual-property/trade-marks
UK Copyright - https://www.gov.uk/topic/intellectual-property/copyright
Intellectual Property Office - https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/intellectual-property-office
Image: Graphic design and illustration for a Boyes Turner brochure