“You cannot steal somebody’s intellectual property. Law and justice protect.” – Bikram Choudhury
Intellectual Property and it’s protection of business and ideas is key knowledge for anybody entering the business world. Although different countries have different and often specific laws and enforcement of Intellectual Property, any person that creates an artwork, design or business has the rights to protection of their ideas and work. Intellectual Property is a category of property that includes intangible creations of human intellect.
Naomi Korn from Naomi Korn Associates was our guest lecturer for this class. Like Janja and all of our guest lecturers, Naomi was incredibly knowledgeable and engaging with our class. We had absorbing activities and examples from different sectors of the creative industries to help us get a better understanding of Intellectual Property and it’s various key aspects.
Naomi talked about copyright and how ideas are not protected by copyright, but the material expression of the idea is protected. We spoke about copyright in the United Kingdom and how copyright protection lasts 70 years after an artist dies. According to the Companies and Intellectual Property Commission of South Africa (2020), copyright protection in South Africa lasts only 50 years after the artist has died.
Enforcement of Intellectual Property in South Africa is not managed particularly well. Without the assistance of lawyers which are unaffordable to small businesses, it is very difficult to ensure your manufacturers, competitors or in some cases, clients, don’t manufacture similar products. I was unlucky to have experienced some dishonest behaviour from my manufacturers and clients. Perhaps if I had the knowledge of what I learned in this class, I could have handled the situations in a more constructive way. I was too casual with agreements with suppliers and stockists and took the protection offered to my business for granted. It is important to know the Intellectual Property laws for your country so that you run less risk of being mistreated.
As part of our preparation for the class, we had to watch this video about Creative Commons. “Creative Commons is a global nonprofit organization that enables sharing and reuse of creativity and knowledge through the provision of free legal tools. Our legal tools help those who want to encourage reuse of their works by offering them for use under generous, standardized terms; those who want to make creative uses of works; and those who want to benefit from this symbiosis (Creative Commons, 2020)”. After discussing Creative Commons, Naomi suggested we get to know a few organisations that operate with Creative Commons licences. These organisations were Unsplash, ArtUK and Wellcome Collection. These organisations share art and images from artists who have given permission for their work to be used by others.
Overall this was a very informative class about how to distinguish what can be protected by Intellectual Property and what is not protected. Although the public often believe that you need lawyers to protect you, most governments have laws in place to make Intellectual Property protection more affordable and accessible to creatives.
Companies and Intellectual Property Commission of South Africa (2020) What is IP? Available at: http://www.cipc.co.za/index.php/trade-marks-patents-designs-copyright/what-ip/ (Accessed: 5th January 2020).
Creative Commons (2020) Frequently Asked Questions. Available at: https://creativecommons.org/faq/#what-is-creative-commons-and-what-do-you-do (Accessed: 5th January 2020).