A Brief Guide to Intellectual Property for Digital Content Creators - Fordham Intellectual Property, Media & Entertainment Law Journal
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A Brief Guide to Intellectual Property for Digital Content Creators

A Brief Guide to Intellectual Property for Digital Content Creators

It’s a great time to be a digital content creator right now. The current global health crisis has only increased visibility for these creators, with Forbes noting that engagement has gone up in the middle of the current global health emergency. At a time when consumers feel more isolated than ever, the best content creators do the necessary job of helping viewers feel less alone.

The digital era has opened up many new avenues for more authentic, consumer-centric marketing. Maryville University’s outline for online marketing degree graduates highlights that it’s a skillset that can qualify them for 21,800 new careers in advertising, promotions, and marketing management. And as most of the work can be done remotely this is why it has become the perfect WFH career option (and why, as above, the number has continued to grow even during a pandemic). Professionals who have studied the subject will have knowledge in interactive and digital marketing along with consumer behavior — skills that are necessary to help digital content creators monetize their works and optimize their content for the web. And as more people enter this career, so too do the issues that come with copyright, which is why it’s so important that content creators learn how to protect their work.

What intellectual property entails

RightsLedger emphasizes that you automatically gain copyright over any work you publish. Heading to the Copyright Office to file a claim happens during a case of copyright infringement. What most creators (and even social media users in general) don’t realize is that signing up for a social media account gives these platforms a license to use your content. This stipulation is outlined within the platform’s terms and conditions, which most don’t read. Of course, it’s also worth noting that these terms and conditions also state that these platforms don’t claim ownership of user’s content.

In the case of Instagram, this license meant a huge imbalance between the massive revenues the platform was gaining and the income stream of the content creators it profits off of. So when Instagram announced that it would be sharing ad revenue with its creators, many saw it as a step in the right direction.

On the other hand, there’s also the issue of “fair use” and what that means when it comes to sharing content. You’ll typically see fair use disclaimers in YouTube videos. It’s important to note that the “fair use” law doesn’t apply to influencers, which means that they can’t take video clips for commercial use and use the fair use law as justification — even if their video falls under educational purposes.

Below are the four factors that courts use when deciding on cases of fair use:

• The purpose of your creation
• The nature of whatever copyrighted work you’re using
• How much of the copyrighted work you’ve used
• The potential effects of this use on the market

How to look after your intellectual property

Thankfully, as a content creator there are steps you can take to protect your work from potential copyright infringement. Putting watermarks on your work is a great first step to ensuring that your work stays credited. You’ll also want to establish a set of guidelines when it comes to other people using your work. Some creators are fine with their work being replicated, while some request that credit be given. It all depends on you.

As with the case of Nita Batra and PopSugar, you’ll also want to be diligent about checking if your work has been reproduced without your permission. The unfortunate truth is that laws surrounding intellectual property and fair use are still in their infancy, which is why content creators need to look after their own work while navigating this dynamic digital landscape. With some much digital content out there, it is up to them to monitor how their work is being used.

With the copyright laws of digital content always in flux, content creators need to stay up-to-date with the latest regulations in order to protect their intellectual property. If they don’t, it is likely someone else will use or even profit from their work.

Jaime Bean

As a freelance writer, influencer, and designer, Jaime Bean has encountered every issue a content creator can face. This is why she is determined to pass on the lessons she has learnt to her readers so they can succeed in this field. Her passions include traveling, animals and chess.