Intellectual property rights (“IPR”) are packages of rights which apply to content. It is these rights which allow us to get the most value out of our creations.

If you are a content creator whether you code, voice act, develop, design or stream that content has value in the form of the underlying IPR which protect’s your ownership. If you compose a short jingle for example, many users may wish to include it as part of their own content they develop. As the jingles creator you will own the copyright (the sole right to use) in it under UK law. So to permit them to use it you may wish to sell them a licence, a right to use that music. In doing so you can charge a fee.

Being aware of what rights exist when using and creating content also ensures you work efficiently as a content creator. There are many issues that can arise from not being aware of who owns the right to a piece of content when you use it.

For example, YouTuber CdawgVA used a song as an introduction to his videos. In the course of using the song he reached out to the artist which he thought created the song to buy a licence to use the track. However, his videos were still flagged and copyright striked. This was because he used a remix of the track which had a different copyright owner. As the remix created a new work the artist who created the remix had copyright ownership, not the original creator CdawgVA approached. The result? CdawgVA had to edit all his YouTube videos which used the track and remove it. This took time that he could have otherwise used to make further content and put the monetization of his channel, effectively his livelihood, at risk. Costly indeed.

That’s why it’s important to have a basic grasp of IPR’s as a content creator – it can save you an awful lot of time and money. Particularly, as it let’s you control your product, your content, better and generate money from it more efficiently.

The versatility of contracting around IPR’s requires specialist lawyers. Rights can be preserved and vary depending on country of origin, like the right to approve usage or to prevent use for commercial purposes. For example, the right in new IPR’s created by using the content can be reserved- if someone uses your content in a slideshow you can contract so you own the IPR’s in the slideshow.

An issue where most users trip up is music usage, particularly for YouTube and Twitch streamers. When you buy the right to listen to most music tracks, say from the Apple Music Store, you gain a personal licence to use that track for your own non-commercial use. Use that track in a monetised YouTube or Twitch stream and you have breached the rights of your licence, extending your use of the track to commercial use. This means the original owner of the track, say Katy Perry, can complain about you using her track Firework in your 4th of July celebration stream. The result? A potential copyright complaint against your channel and a dispute about rights ownership.

The easiest way around this issue? Create your own music. Or commission music for use in your videos, making it clear in the process (in writing!) that you have the IPR rights or right to use. The wording typically grants “a non-transferable licence for commercial use”. If you are streaming to different regions be sure that you specify your rights to be “worldwide”, to be safe.

Many content creators fall foul of thinking that their usage is fair dealing (in the UK) or fair use (in the US), a matter which deserves an article in its own right! But this usage is typically narrow, particularly in the UK. As such, do not rely upon the exception without proper legal advice and be aware that most exceptions under UK law are for criticism or review of the work itself.

A list of UK IPR’s can be found on LaG which may help you get started. Good luck!

In summary:

  • Be aware of who owns IPR’s in content and what rights you need to use a piece of content.
  • Take legal advice in the IPR’s you create in content to ensure you protect and utilise them effectively.
  • Be aware of the exceptions to IPR’s and that they are narrow in nature.

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