Monday, 16 May 2011

Protecting your copyright and licensing rights by Daniela Bowker

I want to share with you invalubale article send to me by one of our gallery artists, Katarina Fagerstrom Levring. The article is dealing with basic, yet most important issues for us all creative people. It has been written by Daniela Bowker and to respect Daniela's rights, I publish here only some excerpts of the whole text. The rest you may read on Small Aperture Blog.

Copyright and Licensing Rights

The first thing to get straight is that there’s a difference between copyright and licensing rights. If you take a photo (or compose a song, or write a story… you get the picture) you own the copyright to it. That means you have the right to have that photo attributed to you and you can say how, where, and when you want it reproduced, if at all.


On very rare occasions, you can sign away your copyright to your creation – and in fact I did this quite recently when the copyright of a project that I wrote was attributed to the company for whom I completed the contract, not to me as an individual – but it’s usually in very specific circumstances.

Licensing rights, on the other hand, are what you, as the copyright holder, use to allow people to use your images (or your words or your music &c). If someone wants to publish your photo, you provide them with a licence to do so. There are a plethora of different types of licence out there, which serve different purposes, allow different things, and have different implications for you as a copyright holder. Hence the confusion.

Why you need a licence, part I

You’ve been away on holiday to Mauritius and you have a selection of the most incredible photos showing the places that you visited, the food that you ate, and the sights that you saw. You want to share them with your family, your friends, and to be honest, anyone who wants to take a look because you’re really proud of a few of them. So you sign up to the photo-sharing website SooperPix that’ll let the world at large marvel at your artistic genius ... read more

Licences of Awesome

If SooperPix is actually SooperDooperPix, it’ll use a licence that’s similar to Flickr’s (who recently reconfirmed their users’ rights), or Mobypicture’s, or Focussion’s, or 500px’s, or in fact a lot of other cool photo-sharing places out there. It’ll say that you grant it a licence for the purpose of displaying them on the website. The licence might even specifically state that it won’t sell your images. Here are the examples of the licences from those four websites I mentioned read more

Licences of Evil

However, if SooperPix is just a masquerade for SooperEvilPix that really wants to be able to sell your images and not let you profit from that sale, the licence will read slightly differently. It’ll probably say that you’ve granted SooperEvilPix, and maybe its devil-spawn affiliates and its unwashed friends as well, a licence to reproduce your images. There won’t be a caveat about ‘for the functioning of the site’, ‘the purposes for which you uploaded them’, or explicitly state that it won’t sell on your pictures. TwitPic’s ToS is a great example of this:

You retain all ownership rights to Content uploaded to Twitpic. However, by submitting Content to Twitpic, you hereby grant Twitpic a worldwide, non-exclusive, royalty-free, sublicenseable and transferable license to use, reproduce, distribute, prepare derivative works of, display, and perform the Content in connection with the Service and Twitpic’s (and its successors’ and affiliates’) business, including without limitation for promoting and redistributing part or all of the Service (and derivative works thereof) in any media formats and through any media channels.

Yes, you keep your copyright, but you’ve lost out on your licensing rights. It, and pretty much anyone else it chooses, can sell your image to anyone it likes and take the proceeds from it. You’ll be acknowledged as the copyright holder, but you won’t see a penny for your creativity read more
Why you need a licence, part II

After reading the ToS, you signed up to SooperDooperPix and gave them the licence to show off your photos to the world. Life is great: your memories are there to relive and for your loved-ones to enjoy. Things get even better when WorldsAway Luxury Holidays spots one of your idyllic holiday sunset photos, and wants to use it to headline its campaign encouraging everyone to visit Mauritius. (Aren’t you pleased that you went before the ad campaign?) They contact you and ask if they can use the photo.

You agree to terms that lets them use your photo. What you’ve done is grant them a licence. It’s a different licence to the one you granted to SooperDooperPix. This licence can take lots of different forms (how they can use the image, for how long, those sorts of things) – and you might want to get a lawyer to take a look at it – but what you’re doing here is giving WorldsAway Luxury Holidays permission to use the photo in return for payment. If you didn’t grant them a licence they’d have to look elsewhere for a picture read more

There are plenty of good guys out there who do want you to profit from your own creativity, so you’ll find a site that meets your needs.

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