The Official Kunvay Blog

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

What is a Copyright, When is a Formal Copyright Needed, and How to Get One

Copyright CutOut2Artists are incredibly creative and brilliantly innovative people.

They can pull ideas and forms out of the nether world and translate their insights into the material world with expertise through their respective medium and talent.

Their music fills our concert halls, their visual innovations greet us every day on everything from soup cans to ads on the Internet and authors of every genre help us to learn and grow by sculpting words into a content that informs and inspires.

Why would they need copyright protection?

Why do jewelers lock up their diamonds inside their own shop? Obviously, it is because valuable things get stolen.

A copyright is a sort of “locked jewel case” that federal law provides for authors to protect their “intangible jewels” or their legal rights in the original works of art they create. “

What is a Copyright and Why Does it Matter?

The easiest way to conceptualize the intangible rights and interests granted to an author by a copyright of his work is to imagine Continue reading

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

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

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

Copyright 101 for eBook Self-Publishing: What You Need to Know about Copyright & Intellectual Property Before You Self Publish

Photo Credit: To lay this book in my lap by Marina Noordegraaf used under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Photo Credit: To lay this book in my lap by Marina Noordegraaf used under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

A Bundle of Rights: Traditional Publishing vs Self Publishing

The Copyright Act of 1976 grants to the author of a copyrightable work a “bundle of rights.”

This “bundle of rights” as provided by federal copyright law invests the creator of a work with exclusive rights to control the reproduction, adaptation, publication, performance and display of his work.

Historically authors would transfer their “bundle of rights” to a publisher under some sort of contract in order to allow that publisher to “publish” or to reproduce and distribute the copyrighted material.

Today authors are able to retain their bundle of rights and full control of the publication of their work by opting to “self publish.” Self publication allows the author to regulate all aspects of the reproduction, marketing and distribution of his creative work.

How to Navigate the Copyright Minefield

It is important that a self publishing author fully understand Continue reading

Top 10 SXSW Panels to Check Out or Follow at Home If You Care About Copyright & IP

SXSW LogoCreativity and copyright reign supreme this week in Austin, Texas where over 32,000 creatives from around the world have converged for the annual South By Southwest (SXSW) Festival.

The festival continues to deliver on its goal to “create an event that would act as a tool for creative people and the companies they work with to develop their careers, to bring together people from a wide area to meet and share ideas.”

We’ve put together our Top 10 favorite panels to attend or follow at home on Twitter if you want to learn more about cutting-edge copyright issues facing the creative community.

Given our mission here at Kunvay to make the world safe for creativity, we were bowled over by the impressive number of conference sessions addressing copyright and intellectual property – subjects of great importance to creatives everywhere.

Follow our Storify feed to find out what people are saying about copyright and IP at the festival, or use these Twitter hashtags to follow the panel conversations directly.

  1. DIY IP: Protect Yo Self, Don’t Wreck Yo Self     #swsw #diyip
  2. The Artists’ Copyright Conundrum      #swsw #crightcon
  3. Copyright & Disruptive Technologies      #sxsw #copytech Continue reading