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    What should you know about copyright to protect your creative work?
    Posted: 2012-06-29 05:00:31

    As producers of creative work, artists, writers and designers alike, often do not consider the importance of business transactions. Often too preoccupied with the idea of producing a piece of expression, or designing a solution, creators  fail to follow the right steps in order to ensure that they are compensated fairly for what their work is really worth.

    If the number seems fair, there is a big chance that you are signing away a lot more than you are willing to. You should read the contract actively, and look up the words that you don’t understand.

    Here are some basic rights that you should consider when selling the copyright to your work:

    What is copyright?

    Copyright refers to the exclusive right to publish, reproduce and sell a  work.

    Who owns copyright?

    Generally, copyright subsists in the creator of the original work; however, copyright in a work can be sold or transferred to others under a variety of conditions. These conditions can vary based on usage, medium, temporality, etc.

    Here are some rights that you should consider when signing a contract:

    First Rights: The right to be the first to publish a work on a one-time-basis only. Any usage beyond this will be considered infringement of copyright.

    Second Rights: The right to re-use an image that has been originally used elsewhere.

    Non-exclusive Rights: When the artist as well as the client have the right to both reproduce and sell the image to third parties. This typically creates an unfavourable situation for both parties since an accessible piece of artwork loses its value relatively quickly.

    Sublicensing Rights: Refers to a party, other than the creator of the work, owning the right to sell the copyright of an image to any third party. This is a situation one would want to avoid.

    All Rights or a Buyout: Refers to the purchase of all rights of usage, while the artist maintains the authorship of the work. This is a situation that can work quite well for the artist if the compensation is fair.

    Moral Rights: Refers to the rights that an author can retain which protects the work from being altered without the author’s permission. This right is meant to protect the integrity of the original piece of work. Moral rights can also assure that the client must obtain the creator’s consent in order to modify or update the work.

    Fair Use: The right to reproduce a work of art for a very limited and specific purpose without requiring the consent of the copyright owner. An example of this would be the use of a small portion of a book for educational purposes.

    Right of Celebrity: The right to use an image of a celebrity for a newsworthy purpose. One may not simply reproduce a celebrity’s image for profit without running the risk of being the target of a lawsuit. 

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