One of the problems of policing the internet for copyright and IP issues is that different countries often have variations in copyright law. However, there are some general principles covering patents, design rights, trademarks and copyright you can rely on.
There are also some very common misunderstandings. creative web design agency london For example, who owns copyright if you pay a company to design an application for you?
Copyright when using a contractor or agency
There’s a frequent misconception about how copyright works in relation to contractors and third-party agencies. Many companies assume that if they have paid to have an application or site developed, then copyright automatically transfers to them upon payment.
However, whether for a personal site or a total e-commerce solution, the reality is a little more complex.
Agencies and contractors will usually retain copyright unless stated otherwise from the outset, or agreed afterward. This means that you need to clarify in advance with any contractors who will own the copyright after project completion.
The same usually doesn’t apply to any employees. Unless you’ve arranged a specific contract, then anything created by them for your company is automatically under the business copyright.
When something is reproduced without permission, copyright can be deemed to have been infringed. It’s often a difficult thing to monitor or control online.
Online copyright issues can effect a whole range of things, including your logos and branding, written content, underlying coding, databases and CMS, graphics, icons, overall layout, music and downloads, software, and images.
Other IP issues to look out for
A few more common issues when it comes to IP protection online include:
Written content – As with offline media, such as newspapers and books, reproducing written content without permission is a copyright offense. Google makes this one of the easier issues to check online.
Hyperlinks – You may regularly see disclaimers on sites such as the BBC or news sites stating that they’re not responsible for the content on sites they link to.
Distributing “free content” — Sometimes companies offer free software or content for download. However, although it is free, it is often free to distribute only as specified, and if attributed to the originator.
Images and icons – Just because it’s on the internet, doesn’t mean it’s free. Look for images licensed under creative commons for free material. Alternatively there are image pay sites. Professional web site design agencies should be aware of this.