Own My IP is a new online system for buyers and creators to assign or request the copyright for creative work. Its aim is for owners and buyers to find a simpler way to handle the process of IP (intellectual property) management.
IP ownership and transfer can be a little tricky, especially when agencies, freelancers and clients are all involved and there may not be a provision on contracts.
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Own My IP works via an email exchange containing an agreement and listing the creative work, website or designs, the rights of which are transferred between an agency and a brand. The aim is to make sure that the process is transparent and formalised so there is less room for confusion.
IP proof of ownership is not always clearly defined. Copyright assignment is often not transferred formally from creator to client which can see content being reused at another time.
Craig Olugbode, MD, Own My IP believes the changing face of creative service provision could leave people open to ambiguity:
“Many of the bigger agencies have clauses within their contracts which they believe covers IP ownership. In many cases they’re right but in an industry where many more brands are using freelancers or small design agencies, IP transfer and ownership is not always straightforward. Brands and agencies will benefit from a service that demystifies the process.”
Beware of standard contracts
According to Olugbode, many agencies and brands believe that standard contract protect their intellectual property but, this is often not the case: “What many agencies find is the terminology written into standard engagement contracts is not specific enough about the types of IP being created and the process of transference. The reality is that standard contracts aren’t always enough to ensure IP is protected.”
The use of freelancers can also further cloud the water when it comes to IP. In some cases where brands work directly with freelancers rather than larger agencies, contracts are not as detailed and sometimes don’t even exist.
Own My IP is designed to make this all a bit simpler. Here’s an example of how it might work: An agency can transfer rights to a piece of work to a brand. Either party can initiate this by requesting rights or starting the process without a request. The creator of the work can also include notes in the agreement to specify terms.
The recipient of the rights accepts the transfer, and agrees ownership of the rights. Both sides then have access to the transfer agreement, which is later stored within the system to help protect against future disputes.
The agreement is paid for by whichever party initiates the process, using pre-paid credits. Probably worth investing in to avoid scrapping over stolen works or who owns what.
With the Internet working as a copy machine for our times, works and images, writing and more are often taken and reproduced. In a professional environment where terms are more usually arranged, this should happen less often.
That said, mistakes and oversights can occur, so getting the terms of IP transfer right should make agreements easier and help to spread original pieces further without anyone getting upset.
Image Credit: Thinkstock