Sunday, 27 February 2011

Copyrighting an idea

Once we've developed our idea for the Disney Brief to a level we feel is ready for submission we have to consider the aspect of ownership. Obviously we would be selling our idea to The Walt Disney Company so in that we would have to enter negotiations with representatives of the company. In fact the rules of the brief outline a whole section based on ownership of work in Paragraph 3 of the rules;
  • 3.1 Entrants retain ownership of their responese submitted into the contest but where such work incorporates sponsor branding entrants may only use the work in accordance with the sponsor guidelines. Entrants may remove sponsor branding from their responses and after that may use such response at their own discretion.

  • 3.2 By submitting a response entrants grant to D&AD and the relevant sponsor a non-exclusive licence for the duration of copyright protection to reproduce or distribute a reproduction of their entry in all media in order to promote, or act as a historical record of, the D&AD Student Awards or D&AD as an organisation or a sponsor's involvement with the D&AD Student Awards or as part of any D&AD Publication (Whether on or offline).

  • 3.3 Entrants agree that, should a sponsor wish to develop or exploit a Response for commercial Purposes, the entrant will enter into negotiations with that sponsor to agree terms for such development or exploitation before negotiating with any other party in relation to the response. We refer to this as the First Negotiation Agreement. The First Negotiation Agreement will remain in operation from the date of submissionof a Response until one week after the award ceremony. Initial contact between entrants and sponsors will be facilitated by D&AD only. Entering into a First Negotiation Agreement does not constitute a Guarantee that either party will reach a final agreement.

  • 3.4 D&AD advises all entrants to obtain independent legal advice in respect of any agreements being dicussed between sponsor and entrant.
By looking over these subsections in the rules section my group can take away several facts that will assist us in obtaining proper legal ownership of our idea. Firstly the first two paragraphs are faily standard in legal terms in that we retain ownership but it can be used for promotional material for the D&AD website or by Disney. The bulk of any complications that may arise comes from 3.3 in which that the sponsor may want to buy ownership of the idea from us, in a situations such as this things that would most likely be discussed are prices, details of complete or partial ownership and how the idea may be developed, but this would only arise if Disney choose to enter negotiations with us to develop or exploit our concept.

So whilst we, as creators would obtain ownership unless we decide to sell the concept how would we claim that ownership? and how would it stand up in a potential legal battle of ownership?

Well, a very simple and cheap method would be to collect all work for the original design, with dates either stamped or written on the back and then posted to ourselves through the use of a postal service so that the package is then stamped with the date of postage. Once we recieve the package we do not open it, as distrubing the contents would create complications in a court case.

Another method of copyrighting our idea is to use The UK Copyright Service. Via this method there are 4 steps;
  • Enter Contact Details
  • Define Each Work and Upload Files
  • Confirm Details
  • Make Payment
Whilst this method requires a payment of "£39.00 for 5 years or £64.00 for 10 years per work", this will ensure that if any legal difficulties over ownership should arise this we prove immediately who does have ownership of the idea. Obviously once the paid for period comes to an end we would have to renew tthe copyright at a price of "£29.00 for 5 years, or £54.00 for ten years". Obviously complications will arise as there are 3 of us in the group to share the copyright amoungst, so what would be the best way to resolve this problem?

First it would be best to draw up a contract in that as a group we agree that we share ownership of the concept and cannot sell it without each others consent and further negotiations, we should also outline that although only one of us can sign up for the copyright we agree that in the event of a court dispute that we agreed to split the costs and that we all have ownership of the idea. Next we each have a copy of said contract and post a collection of the original work to one of us with the contract inside. Finally we share the costs of the price to get the work copyrighted for 5 years.

Through this method we should be fairly scure from potential usurpers who would claim our idea as their own. For the part of drawing up a specially tailored contract we would most likely have to employ the services of a solicitor. Obviously copyright ownership of the idea would be changed accordingly if we ever decide to sell the idea.

With that said and done I believe that as a group, once we have a concept ready to be copyrighted we will be more than prepared.

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