Copyright with Janet Jones

What can be copyrighted? In the growing industries copyright is one of the main attributes to keep unique work specific to the person that created it. Copyright is the right which is completely exclusive to control reproduction and commercial exploitation of the users creative work. It protects work such as illustrations, photographs, and graphic design. Although there are certain circumstances for work made for hire. Generally the work created by the author is consider the owner of the work. Although if you are an employee of the author or creator of any work that is created by you, it is automatically the property and copyright of your employer. This usually only applies to full time employees. Although if you are creating work for an independent contractor i.e. work for hire such as websites or a compilation of work your work, this will legally be made ‘work for hire’ unless a contract is signed saying otherwise. I recently entered a competition creating a bottle design that I have blogged about. In this competition I had to sign a contract saying that all copyright is retained by the company running the competition.

When you create graphic art for a client under the idea of work for hire. Your client therefore is paying for the rights to use the creator’s work under their copyright. This can be one of the most important things with the client and identifying the copyrights within the contact between the creator and the client. The creator will own the copyright to the work unless there has been a signed copy handing over the rights to the client. You can also lend copyright to your client. Copyright within graphic design consist of a bundle of several different exclusive rights. The relevant rights to graphic designers are 1) reproduction 2) display and 3) making adaptations to the work created. Each of these rights can be owned separately. This gives the artist or designer the option to work with the client and still use their existing work. For example you can grant a publisher the right to reproduce your painting as a book cover, and you can keep the right to reproduce it as a print.

(Electronically accessed 20/4/2012, CLA Version 1.0/PS/20/10/2009/Copyright information)

Clients frequently want to own the rights of the copy right and in my opinion I can see why. The basis of asking someone to create design work for the company the client would obviously like to own the rights to have freedom within their design or brand. On the other hand it is important for the author to keep the copyrights of their work. For example say you create a weekly illustration for a magazine. If the author didn’t own the copyrights then the client could re-use this illustration in other content and then could even adjust it to be used in something like a logo. I think when offering to sell the copyright with the client it would depend on the amount of work done for it. Say it was a one off job that was a great idea you might want to keep the copyright to benefit your company or employer. Although if it is a big job where the majority of the work is done and there is no reason to really keep the copyright then it would be good to release or sell it to maintain a good relationship with the client. The other good reason to keep the copyright is to ensure you that you can create other work for other clients of similar look. Otherwise you would infringe the copyrights of the client saying you are using their work.

Copyright is the exclusive right to control reproduction and commercial exploitation of your creative work. Copyright protects any kind of artwork, including illustrations, photographs and graphic design. Except under certain circumstances, you own the copyright in your work at the moment you create it in a “fixed” form of “expression.” A fixed form of expression is any tangible medium that can be perceived by humans, including traditional forms—such as paintings, sculptures, writings—and new forms that require a machine to perceive (e.g., GIF files, CDs, websites).

In March 1981, popular author Dick Francis published a book called ‘Reflex’. The book itself is most certainly a copyright work, but lets imagine the situation if copyright applied to the title in its own right.

  • Copyright law prevents a work from being copied or adapted without the owner’s permission, so if someone else uses your work without permission, you can take action against them.

In thisexample, this would mean that anyone using the word ‘Reflex’ would now be in breach of copyright. Also as copyright prohibits unauthorized adaptation, use of derived words like, reflexes, reflexing, reflexed may also be prohibited. In effect no-one could ever use these words in a document.

In my own opinion copyright is completely necessary for artist because the work is so broad and being a creative person knowing that you own the rights to your creation is important. I have to be very careful in work I create especial in the field of motion graphics. The hardest part is finding audio that can be used and isn’t under copyright infringement. I have mainly used either audio from websites that release free audio for use like or very classical music where the copyright has been released because of the amount of time the composer has been deceased. With audio and film its the life of the composer plus 70 years and then the copyright is released. The depth that copyright goes can be extreme in cases and even down to sound and colour but this can be necessary on the situation especially with larger bigger corporations.  (Electronically accessed 20/4/2012)


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