Copyright ‘once’ used to be focused on art, books and music. Today, however, copyright encompasses much more: product design, social media content, web design, NFTs and software are just a few examples of creations that can be protected by copyright.
What is protected by copyright?
Copyright protection requires that the creation meets the criterion of originality. This is met when the creator – the copywriter, the clothing designer, the content creator, the composer, the photographer, the software programmer, you name it – can express creative skills in an original way by making free and creative choices. However, choices that only offer technical benefits are not “free and creative choices”.
Copyrights arise by operation of law at the moment something is created. Registration is therefore not required. On the one hand, that can be convenient, but on the other hand, it is often uncertain what exactly is and is not copyright protected. Ideas are not (yet) protected by copyright, there must be an actual creation.
Transfer of IP?
What often goes wrong, is that entrepreneurs think they own all the copyrights when they hire someone to create something unique on a project basis – simply because they place the order and pay the bill. That is not the case. If you want to own the copyright to a creation that is made especially for your company, you must agree on this in writing. BVDV can help to put this down in writing properly. We do this, for example, by adding a provision to the agreement or by repairing it (afterwards) by means of a deed with which the intellectual property rights are transferred (at a later date).
Software is an important subject of copyright protection, because – especially with custom software – it often involves large investments. Research reports, drawings, written analyses and software are protected by copyright (insofar as sufficiently original). The source code of the software and the preparatory material together are the object of protection. Preparatory material is that with which the software can be completed without further programming steps, such as the functional and technical design of the software. What is not protected is functionality, the programming language and the underlying ideas.
BVDV’s lawyers regularly advise and litigate on copyright issues. Questions? Feel free to contact us.