The Official Kunvay Blog

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

4 Things Every Indie Game Developer Needs to Know About Copyright & IP

Photo Credit: Super Hypercube by IndieCade used under CC BY-NC 2.0

Photo Credit: Super Hypercube by IndieCade used under CC BY-NC 2.0

If you’re an indie gamer and have yet to encounter copyright issues, don’t worry, they’re on their way.

Copyright is everywhere and the indie gaming world is no exception.

Though its rapid development has given it a bit of a pass in the area of copyright insurgence, the gaming industry is no stranger to copyright issues.

Take for example the case of Galoob Toys v. Nintendo in 1992, a.k.a the “Game Genie” case.

In this case, courts ruled that altering a game’s content in a certain ways did not violate copyright laws. It resulted in gaming giant Nintendo paying 15 million in losses to the little guy, Lewis Galoob Toys, Inc.

This case has a set a precedent in the gaming industry that basically means that all gamers, Continue reading

5 Questions VCs Ask Startups about Copyright & IP You’ll Need to Answer

Photo Credit: Zoosk Startup and VC Speed Dating at Tech Crunch Disrupt 2010 by Howard Greenstein

Photo Credit: Zoosk Startup and VC Speed Dating at Tech Crunch Disrupt 2010 by Howard Greenstein used under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Situations where potential venture capital investors are grilling start-up management always seems to bring the T.V. show “Shark Tank” to mind.

I don’t know how many times I watched as one of the “sharks” on that show told some poor business bait that money would be offered to invest based on a plan to market a license on an app program that showed great potential.

The shark sure sounds like he knows what he is talking about. Or does he.

Because we know that before licensing anything a startup manager needs to have procured a solid copyright.

Getting a copyright for a program associated with an app, website or any other computer program is no easy task regardless of whether venture capital has been secured. There is a fundamental flaw with Continue reading

Copyright & IP Assignment Explained: What Copyright Transfer and Assignment of Rights Really Means

Photo Credit: Copyright by Maria Elena used under CC BY 2.0

Photo Credit: Copyright by Maria Elena used under CC BY 2.0

A copyright confers on its owner a bundle of rights and interests.

But before that copyright interest or right can be validly transferred or assigned to another person or entity, the copyright owner must be sure that they presently own in part or in full the copyright interest that is to be transferred.

Determining copyright ownership means going back to the very origins of the creation or work and tracing all the facts concerning copyright ownership going forward to the present in a “chain of title” search that is similar a real estate title search used to validate land ownership.

If the copyright has never been assigned or licensed or if a previous licensing agreement has expired then the copyright owner is free to assign or license his rights in his work.

Copyright Assignment vs Copyright License

The transfer of a copyright assignment and a copyright license differ greatly in measure and in finality. A copyright assignment occurs when 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