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

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

T-Shirt Design Copyright Basics: 3 Facts Every Graphic Designer Should Know About T-Shirt Design

Photo Credit: 12a by Mico Samardzija used under CC BY-NC 2.0

Photo Credit: 12a by Mico Samardzija used under CC BY-NC 2.0

With the increased ability to share creative ideas and art, graphic designers everywhere are finding more lucrative opportunities to profit from their work.

T-shirt designing is a fashionable possibility but very little has been published to give guidance to the budding artists who are providing the designs that make today’s t-shirts so popular.

As the industry flourishes, copyright challenges and questions seem to grow almost as quickly.

Copyright ownership lines are often blurred and it’s a challenge to keep up with the laws and understand who owns what and who can do what to whom!  The maze of legal issues can be overwhelming and distract you from what’s really important – selling your work for profit.

Therefore, if you really want to monetize your graphic design work in the t-shirt world, you’ve got to know your legal rights and understand the copyright laws surrounding this industry. That way you can move forward knowing that your work is being distributed in a way that you’re comfortable with, without the stress of wondering if you’re losing money or control over your designs.

What is Copyright?

Before I go any further, let’s start with a basic definition of ‘copyright’ and what it means to t-shirt designers.

Copyright is the ownership over a piece of work or art and the exclusive right to reproduce, distribute, commercially exploit, and otherwise profit from it.

So, for those of you designing art for t-shirts and other products, copyright generally refers to ownership and control over the art and designs you’re creating for third parties and their products.

The #1 Question T-Shirt Designers Ask Is . . . 

Over and over we hear, ‘When my work is printed on a t-shirt, who owns the copyrights?’

That’s the golden question. Continue reading