The Official Kunvay Blog

Learn how to navigate copyright and intellectual property ownership smartly so you own your work, and own your future.

Stop Web Content Mills From High-Jacking Freelance Writer Copyrights

Photo Credit: Content writer by Ritesh Nayak used under CC BY-SA 2.0

Photo Credit: Content writer by Ritesh Nayak used under CC BY-SA 2.0

Imagine for a moment you have been working hard on your writing all morning.

You stomach is empty and your eyes are aching.

You step out for a break at the local coffee shop.

You have thirty five dollars in your wallet. You can almost taste the confections displayed in the glass case and you can smell the fresh coffee brewing on the bar.

Suddenly a threatening stranger demands that you turn the contents of your wallet over to him.

Would you quietly do as you are told only to go hungry and watch as he spends your money on a stack of tasty snacks?

Web content mills demand that freelance writers hand over their Intellectual Property, their copyrights, for free. When a writer signs either electronically or on paper a “Writer’s Agreement” or similar so-called “contract” agreeing to submit work acting as an independent contractor or freelancer and that agreement includes a clause that requires that the writer upon submission release all copyright interests he has in his work regardless of subsequent approval and payment he falls prey to the content mill’s copyright high-jacking scam.

The copyright to a work submitted for approval and payment has significant value to a writer because Continue reading

Copying and the Internet: A Never-Ending Saga of Infringement

Photo Credit: Paste Copy Paste Copy by Chris Christian used under CC BY-SA 2.0

Photo Credit: Paste Copy Paste Copy by Chris Christian used under CC BY-SA 2.0

Guest post by J. Michael Allen. an intellectual property attorney and Co-founder of Copypedia.

It’s 2014 and the internet continues to evolve and amaze – today we routinely use tablets and touchscreens, and utter phrases like “Google it” or “there’s an app for that”.

Luckily just like the thankful death of black and white TV, gone are the days of dial up modem connections (and irritating disconnections) and clunky laptops.

Today you can be riding in a car, and with a simple ‘click’ on a mobile device, send (or post, share, Tweet, Like, etc.) information to another person on the other side of the planet in the blink of an eye.

A Culture of Copyists

Unfortunately just as easy and fast as it is to send information in the digital age, it is just as easy to copy someone else’s content, and with the sheer magnitude of people (some say 2 billion-ish) using the internet, let alone robots or other automatic programming, there is zero chance to stop it.

After all, “right-click, copy, paste” is something we all do over and over again on a daily basis, and these actions ultimately continue into the online environment. Continue reading

3 Common Questions about T-Shirt Design & Copyright Law Answered

Tshirt copyright laws

Photo Credit: “8″ by Mico Samardzija used under CC BY-NC 2.0

Summer is coming again and our thoughts inevitably turn to rounding up the usual suspects, a bunch of t-shirts, some cutoffs and a pair of sandals.  No more grabbing vintage tee collectables at the local resale store, this year is going to be different, this is the year you silk screen your own t-shirts.

How about a huge, green, Irish triskele, triple spiral, on a velvet black t-shirt or a banana yellow hibiscus printed over an ocean blue tee?

No question, there are millions of graphic possibilities but coming up with a creative vision that won’t step on someone else’s copyright for some reason invokes a measure of creative block.

No worries; get the screen printing inks ready.  We’ll take a look at the questions, sort out some answers and you’ll be cranking out t-shirts in no time.

1.  Can I print any design on a t-shirt legally?

There are two “bear-trap” words in this question and those are “any” and “legally.” The answer to this very general question is wholly dependent on facts and circumstances left forever unstated.

There is Continue reading

What Happens When a Freelancer Does Graphic Design Work for a Client Without a Contract: Mark’s Copyright Case Study

Photo Credit: No Contract by Leo Reynolds used under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Photo Credit: No Contract by Leo Reynolds used under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Mark is a self employed graphic artist.

He routinely works with clients on an independent contractor basis.

Mark decided to work on a particular client’s project without a written agreement or contract stating the terms of the association.

The client later refused to pay Mark for his work.

The client then began to freely use Mark’s work claiming (1) there was no written or verbal contract for services and no “course of dealing understanding” between them and (2) and that based on the lack of any formal agreement Mark retained no copyright ownership interest or rights in the work he contributed to the project.

Mark feels the client not only ripped off his creative input and artwork but he seems to have been able to misappropriate the copyright interest in his work. Mark has proof his client is using his artwork.

Is there anything Mark can do? You bet there is!

Valid Transfer of Copyright Ownership

Let’s assume that Mark has a valid copyright in his own artwork even when he has produced the work under a client’s requests and directions. Can the client claim ownership of Mark’s copyright in the work? Continue reading

5 Facts You Didn’t Know About Photos & Copyright

Photo Credit: Golden Gate Bridge - Photographing World's Most Photographed Place by Anirudh Koul used under CC BY-NC 2.0

Photo Credit: Golden Gate Bridge – Photographing World’s Most Photographed Place by Anirudh Koul used under CC BY-NC 2.0

Photography and copyright can be tricky subject matter.

For most of us, copyright violations rather than copyright facts bring issues to light, so we learn by the mistakes of others.

This path, however, leaves room for the spread of rampant misconceptions about the proper application of the law.

The risks are high, too. These days copyright violations can lead to hefty fines and even criminal charges in some instances. At least, infringers can expect a pushy take down email with a lawyer’s threat of court time. Clearly, it’s essential to know key facts.

Even though photographic copyrights can get complicated, the facts can bring clarity and clear up confusion.

Granted, it’s not always pleasant to discover all the sharing you’ve been doing on your Tumblr feed is probably actionable in court should the photographer choose to pursue it, or to realize that the fellow you verbally abused via email for copying your Instagram photo might actually have a good claim under the fair use doctrine. Still, when it comes to photos and copyrights, it’s always good to get the facts first.

Fact 1: The minute someone snaps the shutter, that person owns the copyright.

This seems straightforward. Copyright is a right of ownership in original works fixed in a tangible form. A photo fits easily in this category. Unless there is a contractual agreement declares otherwise, the person taking a photo owns its copyright. Some have raised the idea that a photo is a mechanical representation of fact. Even with this description, a photo is definitely the original expression of the photographer, in tangible form.

Things get tricky when Continue reading

3 Lessons You Can Learn about Copyright & IP from a Startup Founder Who Got Screwed Over by Innovation Exchange (IX) & The Clorox Company in a $45K Open Innovation Challenge

Innovation Exchange Logo FinalClorox FinalYou might think the founder of a startup that helps creatives, freelancers and their clients transfer copyright and intellectual property ownership online would have no problem when it comes to transferring IP rights to his own work to someone else, but you would be wrong.

As Kunvay’s founder, I know exactly what it’s like to run into problems transferring ownership of my work to someone else while getting paid fairly for my contributions.

Transferring and acquiring ownership rights to knowledge work is complex and can be frustrating to administrate.

In this post, you’ll learn three important lessons I learned from a recent experience that could be of benefit to you as well.

So let’s begin . . .

I’ve always been a fan of open innovation and crowdsourcing ever since reading Dan Tapscott’s book, Wikinomics. No matter how big your organization is (whether you’re a boutique creative studio or Procter & Gamble), there are more smart people outside your organization than inside your organization so why not benefit from ideas and perspectives from the outside?

Today many companies routinely acquire solutions to business problems created by people outside their organization giving rise to intermediary companies like Innocentive and Innovation Exchange (IX) that provide a platform to outsource business challenges to the proverbial crowd. These intermediaries consult with companies on business problems and then present those business problems in the form of sponsored challenges to solvers like you and me to solve. If a company likes your solution they award you a prize, and you transfer IP rights to your solution to the company. Continue reading