Many of us are familiar with the term ‘Intellectual Property’, but how secure is it in the online digital world? Sarah Doney, Logo Marketing & Design's web expert, explains.
The business plan for many a dot-com millionaire has been to reap the rewards of their intellectual property (IP).
That is: have a bright idea, make it available online, watch the money roll in.
But you don’t have to be an internet wunderkind to earn big bucks from your intellectual property.
Rock stars, artists and writers have been at it for decades, and now the web offers photographers, graphic designers and the like the opportunity to enjoy the potentially substantial earnings arising from a worldwide audience.
Unfortunately, it is all too easy for anyone to copy these images and use them in their own websites and digital marketing without paying for the privilege.
This is theft, just as much so as if it were any other kind of property that had been unjustly taken - and there are internationally agreed laws that protect owners against such crime.
As with all property, intellectual property has an owner and a value.
How it differs from traditional property is that it is created in the mind of the owner.
Intellectual property can cover such things as inventions, ideas, designs and branding.
While large companies like Apple, Google and Samsung are regularly in the courts squabbling over who pinched whose ideas, many smaller businesses underestimate the value of their intellectual property, and fail to protect potentially profitable assets.
Basically, if you create something original, you own all the rights to it and you may choose to exploit it as you see fit.
Anyone else wishing to benefit commercially from your work must first secure your permission and possibly make a royalty payment of some sort.
There are limited exceptions, mostly concerning reviews and educational use, but, as a rule, just because a piece of your work is in the public domain of the world wide web does not mean that it is publicly available for all and sundry to misappropriate.
There are web-based programs, such as Image Raider and Google’s Image Search, that will alert copyright owners to illicit use of their images across the internet.
My agency subscribes to Copy Sentry (the same software used by teachers to spot plagiarised text in students’ essays).
Almost every week we are alerted to websites that have pinched original copy and images from our website.
So protect your intellectual property, before someone else steals it from you.
Logo Marketing & Design is a well-established brand and digital agency based just outside Plymouth, Devon. For further information, please contact Sarah Doney at Logo Marketing & Design. Tel: 01752 830000. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Web: www.logodesign.co.uk