Astrid Bovell on May 18th, 2012
So you may have seen in my last post an article regarding Orphaned Works and how they’re treated in Sudan. It was quite interesting being that if a copyright owner passes on without an heir, their work then falls into the public domain – quite different from everywhere else. Anywho, that is not the point of this post. The point is, I’d read the article that day and I had orphaned works on my mind…
In the evening – after I’d posted my blog for the day – I happened to be at a party that was FILLED with musicians and artists. At some point in the evening someone started asking me about copyright (yes believe it or not, people at parties do like to ask about copyright – more frequently than you’d think!) and how they’d found out that their music or their artwork had been used by someone without their permission. I asked everyone about their works:
– So, did you sign your work?
Is your signature readable?
If I googled your name, do you have a website that comes up?
Did you watermark the digital copy of the work on your website with a copyright symbol and your name?
If I found your website, would I easily find an email address or a phone number where I could contact you?
I was astonished.
Most of the people I spoke to hadn’t done any of those things. Those that had done something had their name on their work but it wasn’t readable, didn’t have a website, or had one but their work wasn’t watermarked and even if someone found the website – there were no contact details on it, or there were but they were out of date.
Someone said to me “Oh but I don’t mind people using it… I want people to use my work so that my work gets out there and people will get to know me and my work”. There was general muttering of consensus from everyone….
I said “How is anyone going to know it’s yours?”….
I said “No wonder people use you’re stuff without asking for it! They either don’t know who created it or know but have no way of asking you for it! What do you think would happen if an art dealer or record manager saw/heard your work but it wasn’t easy to contact you? Trust me, they’re busy people, they’re not going to spend more than 2 – 5 minutes trying to find you – they’ll look at something else by someone else that they can contact instantly!”
Everyone laughed a sheepish laugh, because clearly none of these people had done everything to ensure that others knew who they were or how to contact them for their work.
Copyright is not usually a subject that you would associate with a life-of-the-party moment, and to be honest, it wasn’t that kind of moment at all. But the thing is- you never know the kind of difference what I said could make. Who knows? Maybe after the party, someone has gone back to their work, clearly named it, watermarked the digital copy, created a website, updated their website with contact details and instructions on how to ask their permission and maybe, just maybe, the right professional out there will see their work, get in touch and hey…. there you go… a new star is born.