Monitoring and protecting copyright
Whether it’s a specific artist, a business who claims copyright to the production of a piece of work or a brand that needs its logos protected, the question is: who owns art? Many companies who commission artists are careful to ask for an IP release or assignment so that they can move forward without concern.
Copyright 101 – Monitoring In the Digital Age
As it currently stands, the moment an artist, thinker, inventor or creator makes or produces something (independent of being an employee), it belongs to them. That’s the moment when copyright is automatically recognized as being an inviolable right of the individual creating. For the purposes of registration and monitoring, a form can be filled out in order to further protect the work, especially in cases of a lawsuit being brought by the creator against infringement. Many people say that monitoring IP rights is harder in the digital age because there are so many more works, but this is not necessarily true. Whether there are more or less works is not relevant; important is how quickly these works spread, how fast they are posted online and in multiples–with some being well-known and others more obscure–that is the issue. It is this kind of anonymity which makes monitoring the rights of the creator so much harder. Oftentimes, one’s rights may be already being violated online but, unless someone stumbles upon the “theft” or re-posting, how can action be brought?
Registration as Best Practices
To protect against copyright infringement, a business’s best practices should include monitoring well known hubs where viral content is often posted without attribution. In the case of Viacom Intl. Inc. vs. YouTube, the former sent the online video company a notice for take-down of content because YouTube’s database held thousands of copyrighted Viacom clips. YouTube took down these posts within a day. In this case, Viacom’s legal action exemplifies brand protection monitoring. While individual filmmakers may not have initiated full copyright assignment, the various clauses of ownership within individual contracts meant that Viacom could claim ultimate “ownership” or the right to act on behalf of the artist or creator, thereby sending YouTube a take-down notice legally. Because only monitored works can be truly protected, it is in the best interests of all involved to register IP rights, especially as a piece of work moves into the commercial sphere.