Protecting Graphic Assets in the Digital World

protecting Graphic Assets

Consider this scenario – there is a social media agency that posts various graphic creations on social networking platforms for its own promotional campaign. Some of these posts, by virtue of their innovative designs, go viral. However, they are taken out of the context and within just a few days, the designs of these posts are entirely copied, the brand logo on them changed, and hundreds of copy-cat posts pop up across platforms. Here, the social media agency makes 100-200 posts a month, and copyrighting each post would be an expensive affair, so they find themselves unable to redeem their creations.

 How can a creator or agency such as this safeguard its graphic assets in such cases?

The harsh truth about being a photographer, graphic designer, meme creator, or blogger is that your content is available to a vast audience and keeping track of their use is difficult to say the least. Individuals often copy-paste original work or may use it by making slight changes to it without acknowledging the owner’s effort.

There are several famous copyright infringement cases that often challenge the norms and popular opinions on what fair use of artistic property is, and blur the lines between creator and user. These cases are crucial reminders of the fact that creators need to be prepared for such instances.

Rogers vs Koons

One such case was between Art Rogers, a professional photographer and Jeff Koons, a popular American artist. Rogers claimed that Koons used his photograph of a couple holding puppies in a row as his theme to create a set of statues. Due to this promotional stint, Koons drew in a significant profit with these statues, an aspect that incited Rogers to sue him.

The court found similarities between the two photographs and Koons was found guilty and ultimately compelled to pay a monetary concession to Rogers.

Although this case raised the issue of appropriation of art, and the clause regarding “photography being just a documentation of the world or being a creative and artistic product” neither of the two arguments were completely resolved.

The case begs the fundamental question of how photographs, memes and other forms of graphic content that are not blatantly copyrighted can be protected against misuse. In the eyes of the court, the move by Koons was in “bad faith” as it ultimately reduced the demand for original works in the market via representation without any unique derivations or novel observations.

Modern Dog Designs Vs Target corporation

Another such case dates back to 2011 when Modern Dog Designs alleged a copyright infringement case against Target Cooperation. Illustrations used in a t-shirt produced by Disney were alleged to be copied from a series of dogs utilized by Seattle design firm Modern Dog in their compendium, which was put out by Chronicle Books in 2008.

However, no judgment has yet been passed by the court in this case, but the case itself gave rise to many concerns regarding such issues. A prominent one was the consideration of the course of action in case a significantly large corporation with vastly more resources than an individual artist or smaller entity producing graphical artwork resorts to the use of such artwork for free.

What is “Copyright Infringement”? And distinction between “Copyright” and “Trademark”  –

Copyright is a protective measure that defines and secures the ownership of a particular person or a company on the material it has created, like blogs, flyers, memes, and graphics. However, copyright does not prevent the idea from being copied even though it does prevent the theft of exact content by a significant other.

Copyright infringement is an act that occurs when copyright-protected content is used without the permission of the owner by some other entity or individual.

Whenever a company or an individual develops a new work they need to ensure that it is protected via copyright so as to gain profit from their efforts. A third party may be given access to such content through license agreements or by buying the work from the copyright holder. Tải Clash Of Clans

A trademark, on the other hand, is an intellectual possession that consists of configurations and insignias describing products and services from a particular source, thereby distinguishing it from others. In simple terms, a trademark is a logo that is an identification of a company, which in turn identifies the “brand owner” behind a creation.

One requires a licensing agreement to use the trademarked content of the another. For example – “Bullyland obtained a license to produce Smurf figurines”, and “the Lego Group purchased a license from Lucasfilm to be allowed to launch Lego Star Wars”.

If a trademark is used without any licensing agreement, such an act is known as “Brand Piracy”.

Even though these regulations and laws are well known, what happens to those graphic content pieces that lie outside the realm of the protection of such frameworks? How can the thousands of graphic pieces that are either too expensive or cumbersome to be copyright-protected or trademarked be protected?

Creators can undertake a practical approach and following measure to work around this issue:

1)         Disabling the right-click option –

 We all know that to copy-paste something you need to do a right click and select copy. By disabling the access to copy content from your site via the right click, you can prevent your content being copied or misused to some extent.

There are several methods to disable the right click, the most accessible one being the use of specific content copy protection plugins on your site such as Envira GalleryLite and No Right Click Images Plugin

Envira GalleryLite is one of the most used WordPress content copy protection plugins. It helps you create galleries that are reinforced with image protection, perfect for artists who want to display their work without fearing copyright infringement.

            To activate the plugin

             –        Go to Envira GalleryLite “settings”

             –        Click on the Add-ons tab

             –        Scroll down to find ” Protection Act” – click and save it

             –       Create image gallery with the plugin and select “Enable image protection

No Right-Click Images Plugins uses Javascript and CSS techniques to protect your content from being copied. It prohibits people from utilizing your words or graphics without your approval. It disables the key options like “CTRL+A, CTRL+C, CTRL+X, CTRL+S or CTRL+V”

2)         Watermarks –

A watermark is a superimposed text or symbol atop an image or graphic or blog that helps in preventing unethical means of plagiarising one’s work. It is a significantly helpful process as far as copyright protection is considered as it prevents the content from getting stolen, used or modified without the owner’s permission. The Envira GalleryLite Plugin provides watermarks as an add-on while you can also integrate watermarks manually into your work using Adobe Illustrator and other programs by reducing the opacity of your logo.

3)     Adding a DMCA badge on your site –

A DMCA badge resembles a seal of protection on your site that deters potential case of theft of your content happening on your site. A registered badge of DMCA provides you access to various tools and also helps you in taking down any site stealing your content. It provides both free and paid protection of your site. DMCA promises stringent legal actions on your behalf if an individual is trying to copy or use your content without your permission.

DMCA badge registration is free and creators can choose from over 300 badge-type options depending on the level of protection they would like. Once you pick a badge of your choice, all you need to do is integrate the embed code of the badge into either to footer of your website or on specific pages that you want to protect. Every page that has the DMCA badge is included in the protected pages list under the organization.

Laws regarding content infringement and copyright –

Even though there are no laws that directly focus on graphic assets such as those created by social media agencies and artists, there are hints and clauses in most existing legal frameworks that in one way or the other, pave the way for protection of such assets. Minecraft has launched their new version for Vietnamese users Tải Minecraft 

Copyright Act, 1957 “protects original literary, dramatic, musical and artistic works and cinematograph films and sound recordings from unauthorized uses. Unlike the case with patents, copyright protects the expressions and not the ideas”.

Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works –  focuses on enabling artists and content creators in deciding how, by whom and on what terms their content is utilized.

The Universal Copyright Convention of 1951 focuses on three core elements of protection, namely – “National treatment of work”, “Providing minimum rights”, “Minimum term = lifetime of author + 25 years.”

Copyright law of the United States –

It provides monopoly protection for “original works of authorship.” The Copyright law of US includes the following types of works:

  • Literary
  • Musical
  • Dramatic
  • Pantomimes and choreographic works
  • Pictorial, graphic, and sculptural works
  • Audio-visual works
  • Sound recordings
  • Derivative works
  • Compilations
  • Architectural works

Under all of these laws, there are no explicit regulatory clauses that pertain to graphic content or digital content as such. However, on the basis of the level and type of protection that is guaranteed by these legal frameworks, artists and content agencies can protect themselves under the helm of these legislations by ensuring that the time of creation and actual proof of the creation process is documented when developing original content. In case of the availability of these two fundamental pieces of evidence, all laws guarantee protection of original creative property.

Conclusion –

It’s hard to prevent your work from theft as the reach of content in the digital world is vast. People tend to copy-paste whichever image or blog they like without being aware of whether their act is ethical or not. To prevent your content from copyright infringement, you need to take up preventive steps like mentioning it clearly on your site regarding what behaviour is tolerated and what is not. Also, the owner can reach out to the individual who copied his content and ask him for proper credits or else ask him to pull that content down from his site. There are various technological methods, such as plugins, that offer preventive assistance as discussed above to deal with such situations. Even though ideas cannot be prevented from being copied as easily, documenting time and/or creation process of original content offers adequate protection for creative assets under all core legal frameworks.