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Protecting your Assets

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Last month the singer, Taylor Swift, made headlines with her stance against Apple Music regarding their policy for paying (or not!) singers for streaming their music.  This week, a photographer in the Midlands was surprised when his blog accusing Taylor Swift of double standards when it came to image rights went viral.

The issue of protecting your copyright when posting things online is something I am often asked about, particularly by clients who trade on the Internet and rely on it to showcase their skills or products, and the law relating to protection of original work is quite complex.

As a general rule, something that you physically create which is unique becomes your intellectual property and no one else has the right to use it without your consent.  Marking your work with the copyright symbol, your name and year of creation can help but whether or not you mark the work does not affect your rights.  Copyright protection applies to web content and databases just as it does to books or sound recordings.  

Subject to very few exceptions, if someone wishes to then use your web content then they will need your permission to do so which you can grant by way of a Copyright Licence.

Some exceptions to the general requirement that you need a licence to use somebody else’s copyright protected work include 

  • non commercial research and private study; or
  • air dealing for criticism, review or quotation 

but the exceptions are narrowly defined and anyone seeking to use one of them should look very carefully at whether what they are doing fits into the criteria.

With the rise of illegal file sharing, protecting intellectual property rights has become a hot topic of conversation and I have personal experience of a business sale which did not in the end go ahead because the seller could not prove to the satisfaction of the buyer that his business name and logo was sufficiently different to another business’s registered trademark to prevent a claim from that other business of “passing off”.

The Internet can be a wonderful place to do business but, if you are going to take full advantage, you need to ensure that your “paperwork” is correct and that you are taking advantage of the available laws to protect your web content.  If you would like further advice then give us a call and we would be happy to assist.