The Official Kunvay Blog

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

What Every Creative & Ad Agency Outsourcing Work to Freelancers Needs to Know About Copyright

Photo Credit: Mojave wins Creative Agency Awards 09 by Mojave Interactive used under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Photo Credit: Mojave wins Creative Agency Awards 09 by Mojave Interactive used under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Creative agencies are increasingly shrinking the number of in-house or staff creatives and opting to rely on freelancers to perform a multitude of tasks from pitching ideas to sustaining an advertising campaign.

The sluggish economy has stressed many agencies causing those employers to suffer difficulties in covering the cost of maintaining staff employees.

It costs a lot these days to maintain a regular employee on staff (payroll taxes, healthcare, insurance, etc.).

Outsourcing of Freelance Work on the Rise

Some employers hoping to pinch a few nickels have turned to hiring freelancers and specifically designating them workers under agreement or “independent contractors” to function as part-time, intermittent and offsite workers that in truth provide the majority of the agency’s day to day creative needs.

Unfortunately, these employers wrongly conclude that simply claiming an employee is an independent contractor even if he is supplying regular, ongoing and predictable company tasks will relieve an employer of his responsibilities to State and federal taxation authorities.

It will not, and worse, this action could be considered intentional tax fraud.

If they could only see and hear the state and federal agency tax-collecting accountants slowly pursing their lemon-sucking lips into a shape that only slightly resembles a smile. “Penny wise and pound foolish,” they’d sneer in response, “Do these people think we were born yesterday on what? Audit that company.”

Copyright Ownership & Transfer, Employees and Independent Contractors

And if navigating the many potholes and ditches of payroll doesn’t provide enough points of interest for unwary management there is always the very dicey issue of copyright Continue reading

Is Copyright the New Black?

Photo Credit: Copyright Symbols by MikeBlogs used under CC BY 2.0

Photo Credit: Copyright Symbols by MikeBlogs used under CC BY 2.0

There’s something special about the color black.

In the fashion world, it’s come to enjoy a sort of legendary status, expressing an authentic mix of poise and practicality that’s completely essential for every wardrobe.

Could it be that copyright, the supposed refuge for creators and authors, has also achieved similar status?

It’s an issue well worth addressing. In today’s technology-driven era of ubiquity and proliferation, our airwaves are ever awash in torrential downpours of information.

The combination of capable hardware and widespread social networking makes it convenient, entertaining and even rewarding to select and share, share, share. Herein, lies the crux of our issue.

Transcending the Copycat Norm

The non-commercial copying and pasting, digitizing and downloading, forwarding and freely sharing considered so normal these days often leaves one key player completely out of the loop: the original creator, not to mention her compensation and credit.

This means creative work is routinely shared illegally, and our culture simply accepts it.

The protection of originality in creation lies at the heart of copyright law – mostly so that artists, writers and other creators can keep Continue reading

What the Winklevoss Twins Can Teach You About Copyright & Intellectual Property So You Don’t Get Zuckerberged

Photo Credit: Cameron Winklevoss at the 2008 Beijing Olympics by Johnnyroee used under CC BY 3.0

Photo Credit: Cameron Winklevoss at the 2008 Beijing Olympics by Johnnyroee used under CC BY 3.0

Do you remember the movie “Social Network” that came out in 2010?

The movie’s main story line revolved around a toxic business relationship and intellectual property dispute that arose between Tyler and Cameron Winklevoss, known to the world as the Winklevoss twins, and the future owner of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg.

The Winklevoss twins were students at Harvard and had hired Zuckerberg as an employee to work on the software of their social network business model and brand “UConnect.”

The twins would later claim that Zuckerberg stole their business model “idea” when he formed his own social network site “Facebook.” The twins sued Zuckerberg in federal court netting them millions of dollars in damages.

Ideas Are Not Copyrightable

Everybody knows that ideas are not copyrightable.

Does that mean then that whenever you have a brilliant and innovative idea for a business, a novel, a car design or have any other flash of true genius in the form of a concept or design that there is no law in place that can work to protect the intellectual property rights in your “idea”?

Is there no way to stop your “idea” from being stolen out from under you by trusted employees or other double dealing interests in situations similar to that of Mark Zuckerberg and those innocent and trusting Winklevoss twins?

The answer is Continue reading

5 Important Facts You Need to Know about Graphic Design, Copyright & IP that Design School Didn’t Teach You

Photo Credit: 5 Mosaic by Leo Reynolds used under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Photo Credit: 5 Mosaic by Leo Reynolds used under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

For most graphics designers, it’s hard enough juggling the rigors of running a business or staying on top of a hectic freelance schedule.

Add to that the mountain of confusing information surrounding intellectual property (IP) rights, and a vast sea of frustration, and even borderline apathy, might quickly ensue.

However, graphic designers have good reason to get to know the specifics about their IP rights.

Once work is created and made available to the public, the chances of someone claiming the work as their own or reproducing it without giving proper credit can skyrocket in today’s technologically advanced, share-friendly culture. Nothing is more infuriating than discovering that your creative ability is being exploited by someone who has neither the permission nor the right to do so.

Quality Work Needs Quality Protection

Getting the facts about intellectual property laws and how they affect your design work is something that simply cannot be put off.

That’s because just about all the work that designers produce falls under the category of intellectual property, and the wisest thing to do with intellectual property is to protect it.

Remember, just because there is no tangible product involved in your creative process does not mean your work deserves any less protection, or compensation, than other valuable business assets.

Graphics designers also must be prepared to go beyond simply protecting their own work. They also need to make sure they don’t end up infringing someone else’s work as well.

In the design field, as in any other, it’s considered extremely disrespectful and ethically inconsiderate to use someone else design without permission.

It’s imperative that designers stay abreast of what is and is not allowed when it comes to using the images, photos and design elements of other artists and creators.

Fact 1. The Difference Between a Copyright and a Trademark is Use

Several types of intellectual property rule the graphics design world.

There are differences here that are essential to know for interactions with clients as well as for protecting your ideas and creative work.

The two most important IP rights for graphics designers are copyrights and trademarks.

Copyright. A copyright protects any completed graphic element whether registered or not. Even though you Continue reading

Why You Don’t Own Your Wedding Photos: How to Own Your Wedding Day & Copyrights to Your Wedding Day Photos

Wedding Photos Copyright - Photo Credit: iStock PhotoPsssst.

Did you know that few people really own their own wedding photos?

It’s a little known fact that most people are shocked to discover.

However, after reading this post you’ll understand why wedding photos are the most expensive photos of a lifetime that most people don’t own and more importantly, how you can avoid this common wedding-day fail and own your wedding day AND your wedding photos.

A wedding is such a personal matter. Many automatically assume full ownership of wedding photos belongs to the happy, new couple.

They figure the wedding photographer is merely someone paid to render a service, and never imagine that, in actuality, ownership belongs solely to the photographer.

It’s a matter of copyright right law, and a finicky one at that.

Owning Your Wedding Day, Doesn’t Mean You Own Your Wedding Day Photos

Here’s the scenario: With the wedding only weeks away, the future Mr. and Mrs. Nuptial are planning their wedding photos.

They’ve hired the magnificent Mr. Flash, a very popular wedding photographer whose reputation precedes him.

The Nuptials, having seen his work, are thrilled to have him on board. In a brief meeting, Mr. Flash describes the details of the pre-wedding photo shoot as well as the arrangements for wedding day pics.

Trusting his experience and reputation the Nuptials agree. Everything is set.

After the wedding, the Nuptials are back from their honeymoon and excited to see the lovely photos of their beautiful day. More importantly they want copies to share with friends and family.

They dial up Mr. Flash and speak with his assistant. She quickly informs the couple, to their utter dismay, in order to take any photos home, they’ll have to pay a whopping expense for each extra print.

Doesn’t seem fair, right? Or, does it? Continue reading

How Mismanaging Your Copyright & IP Rights is Ruining Your Career as a Creative or Freelancer (And How to Fix It!)

Photo Credit: Money Down the Drain by Images Money used under CC BY 2.0

Photo Credit: Money Down the Drain by Images Money used under CC BY 2.0

As a freelancer, your work is your livelihood.

It’s your product, service and brand, all rolled into one.

And without a big business to hide behind, it’s just you and your creations on display for all the world to see.

This is both the burden and the blessing of being self-employed.

Managing and protecting your work, then, is critical to your progress, especially when it comes to ownership and copyrights.

If you’re not controlling ownership of your work, you could be missing out on big clients, big paychecks and big opportunities.

Unfortunately, many freelancers and creatives are unnecessarily–and sometimes unknowingly–stifling their careers simply because they don’t understand copyright and intellectual property (IP) laws.

Grasping the rules of ownership could make or break your freelance salary. So if you’re serious about your career, you need to recognize where you’re throwing money away, and then work to fix it!

I’ve identified the 3 most common copyright & IP errors, in no particular order, that lead to suppressed freelance careers and salaries.

1) Accepting Royalty Payments

First of all, you should never accept royalties as payment. I know, it sounds tempting, especially for those of you still trying to make your first mark.

But hear me now; royalties are a rip-off. You should never make your income dependent on what the client does with the work after-the-fact. Continue reading