Content is king in marketing today, but the laws related to content are new to many companies. Navigating the world of copyrights is critical but confusing in a time when digital content exploitation is rampant.
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Entertainment attorney Elsa Ramo, Founding Partner of Ramo Law PC, explains, “Today, anyone can make content at a faster rate and lower price point. At the same time, consumers view things differently. People consume content in smaller bursts of time. They also consume content in different ways. Mobile and multi-screen have opened the doors to new distribution options, including going directly to the online audience.”
Ramo explains there are three areas of copyright law that businesses and content marketers need to understand if they create and publish content.
1. Understand what can be copyright protected.
An idea or concept cannot be copyrighted. Ramo offers unscripted television such as Big Brother as an example of a concept that cannot be copyright protected.
2. Understand who owns what in collaborations.
Collaborative works can cause problems down the road if copyrights aren’t determined early in the creative process. Ramo sees this most often with screenwriters who solicit feedback or interest in a script from others. They receive feedback but don’t properly contract the contribution.
Ramo says, “If the notes and feedback are extensive, that collaborator could own part of the copyright. Without a work-for-hire contract in writing, it’s a de facto ownership. That person can jump up later and say he or she owns part of the rights. At that point, a deal must be negotiated which can be very costly.”
3. Understand when it’s best to retain your copyrights by licensing original work.
Consider the benefits to retaining copyrights by licensing your original work to another person or entity versus selling the work and giving up your rights to ownership. Ramo points to composers as an example from the entertainment industry. Most often, composers want to retain their copyrights, so they’ll license their music for use in a film rather than selling it and giving up their rights to ownership and protection.
Bottom-line, protect your business content by educating yourself about copyright laws. It will save your business both headaches and money in the future if you do the groundwork today.
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