Own-it | Intellectual Property Know-How for Creative Businesses

A monkey could do it!

A monkey could do it!

Published: 03.08.11 at 17:32

We receive a number of queries regarding copyright issues and so it might be useful to summarise the topic of ownership. The rights holder in any work protected by copyright (musical, artistic, dramatic etc) is the author i.e. the person who created it. This is the case unless the work was created in the course of employment in which case your employer will own the copyright. You are also free to make an agreement to the contrary as well, so check any clauses regarding ownership of intellectual property in any agreements you have in place before you set about creating your masterpiece as you may have signed away your rights.

So, using photography as an example, the owner of the copyright is the person who takes the photos i.e. the person who pressed the button. From an intellectual property perspective, it does not matter how much of the preparatory work you undertook or whether you set everything up, if you did not take the photograph then you are not the one that owns the copyright. This means that you will not be allowed to use the work for any promotional purposes or to make and sell copies without the permission of the copyright holder.

So, if by chance a monkey steals your camera and takes some amazing pictures that you later wish to publish (true story!) be wary of asserting your rights in these photos. You may not find yourself being sued by the monkey but you may find that you cannot prevent others from using the photos for their own purposes either!

For more information on this story see the 1709 Blog.

Photograph (some rights reserved) by TanWei


Please note that this article provides general information only but is not to be regarded as legal advice. You must take advice from a specialist lawyer in relation to your specific circumstances. Further, you should seek additional legal advice when dealing with parties based in other parts of the world or works originating from other parts of the world as the legal position may vary.


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