Protecting Copyrights – What Artists Need to Know

We at Tumbhi are blessed to be surrounded with an amazing community of artists worldwide. We spend a lot of time interacting with them (through online as well as offline mediums) and talk to them about enhancing their art form, nurturing their talent and helping them get opportunities to showcase their talent. With the increase in distribution of art in the online world, lot of times, we get questions about protection of artworks. So we thought of compiling an article to give a snapshot of various ways of protecting artworks in different categories.

 

Photography

As a photographer, if you want to take advantage of the millions of opportunities the online world offers, then you can’t avoid putting up your pictures online. There also exists a category of web users who are not very particular about copyright information and tend to use any photograph from the Internet without giving due credits to the photographer. To protect your photos from such users, here are some of the ways you can use:

  • Put copyright notice directly on your photos. You can use statement like “Copyright <<Year>> All Rights Reserved”
  • Watermark the images – Yes, the quality and impact of the image might get hampered, but at least your image is protected
  • Disable the ‘right click a copy’ option on the web pages
  • Crop images into multiple pieces and place the pieces in such a way that it appears like one photo but any web user will need to download individual photos and combine them together before using the picture.
  • Always upload compressed images
  • Upload smaller images or thumbnails

Writing

Remember, you, as the original author of your work, own all the copyright for your work, unless you assign the rights to a third party. Your work is automatically protected the moment you write it down in tangible format. Until March 1989, for receiving copyright law protections, a formal copyright notice was required to be placed on the work but that is no longer the case. However, it is always recommended that you add a copyright notice with your own name and year – this will tell the readers that you are serious about copyright. Secondly, you can register your script with associations such as the Writers Guild of America or Film Writer’s Association in India. The registration helps members in protecting their work in case there is any copyright violation.

Short Films

In case of films, to qualify for protection under copyright laws, your film must be your original creation. Additionally, it should be attached into a medium. Copyright laws are applicable even without registration, however, if you register your work with Copyright office and make it available in public record, you become eligible for additional rights and protection. The copyright begins as soon as you create your work and continues for your lifetime. It is recommended that you put a copyright notice in the end-credits of the film. If you want to grant access to someone else to use your film, you must first give them license to use it and it is suggested that you use a written license. If someone uses your work without your permission, its infringement and you can take legal action against that person.

Music

Your music creation is protected under copyright law if it is written in music notation or recorded on tape or in some other form. Here we provide some more recommendations for music composers and singers to protect their work:

  • Always write the international copyright symbol ©, your name as the copyright owner and the year in which the work was written or published.
  • Put your music creation in some tangible form – This could be on a CD, DVD, tape, or written as sheet music
  • Register your work with National Copyright office
  • Date stamp your creation
  • Many publishers including iTunes already use a technology called DRM which protect the music composition from being copied to other devices
  • When you are uploading your work online, use digital watermarking
  • If possible, upload a low quality work and provide users an option to buy or contact you for high quality work

We do hope that these tips help you in knowing your rights and available protection methods to assist you in protecting your art work.

Take advantage of the vast world of Internet to reach out to a wider audience while being cautious and aware of your rights!

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