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

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

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

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