In the course of providing legal advice to content creators as I do you see common problems present themselves time and time again. Here are a few common mistakes so you don’t make them:
- Don’t just use that piece of music, art, design or code – If someone has created something they have likely rights in it. That being said DO NOT just use a piece of music, art, design or code you come across. This goes especially for searches of databases like Google Images. The content creator likely holds the right to prevent you from using or copying from that work. Make sure you approach the content creator directly, ask to use it and keep a record of it in writing. Using content without clearing the rights in it doesn’t end well- usually the creator can send you a cease and desist demanding you cease use.
- Don’t develop that fan idea – similar to my above point. We all have games we like and want to draw from. Be wary of getting too close or copying a game all together. This will infringe the rights of the holder. In the cases of the big studios they will not thank you, more likely issue a cease and desist letter against you for using their content without authorisation. There are countless examples of this, like Nintendo shutting down Pokemon Essentials. This can be done right by carefully approaching the rights holder.
- Don’t ignore those terms and conditions – YouTube, Twitch, Facebook and Google all have Standard Terms and Conditions. If you are placing any of your revenue generation on a platform read their Terms and Conditions carefully. There may well be restrictions on monetization or running ads. There will also be user guidelines you have to comply with. Failure to do so risks you being kicked from the platform or having you content demonetized.
- Don’t just sign – Do not just sign things. This can put the commercialisation of your content at risk. Especially if you are using a service. There usually are key terms in the contract you need to be mindful of such as restrictions, usage terms and content guidelines. A critical question to ask yourself is how signing a document may impact your content. Will it force you to give away rights in your content you would rather reserve, restrict your monetizing or put your intellectual property at risk. Always check clauses about intellectual property ownership in particular as this governs your rights in the content you create. If in doubt as ask a lawyer to review it for you.
- Don’t ignore the legal side of things – Consult a lawyer preemptively. If possible a specialist in content creation (see our resources page for a handy list). Much legal work can be done early on for a fixed cost and save you a significant amount of money and hassle down the line. It would be sensible to budget a few hundred pounds for this, keeping in mind that this advice may save you ten times that amount. Some lawyers may even give you a free consultation to get you started.
All in all a few simple steps can help you cover off 90% of legal risk to you early on and make it easier to manage on an ongoing basis. If you have any questions do feel free to contact us.