If you write a text, create a (digital) work of art or develop a video game, you automatically own the copyright. This right is free and as a creator or author you do not have to register or apply for anything. Good to know is that your work is only protected by copyright law under these 3 conditions:
- Your work is personal and original: it should not look like the work of others.
- It can be seen, read, heard or felt. In short, noticeable to the senses.
- It is not a new technical product or a new process, because it falls under the patent law.
Does anyone use your work without your permission? Then the person infringes your copyright and you can take (legal) steps. In this article, copyright lawyer Bauke van Laarhoven-Severs and NFT expert Dwayne Djontono tell you how you as a maker can better protect your work in a digital world. In addition, various entrepreneurs talk about what they did when their copyright was infringed.
Since June 7, 2021, stricter copyright rules apply, especially on the Internet. These rules complement the existing European rules and reduce the differences between the countries of Europe. Producers, for example, get better copyright protection and fairer compensation. In addition, major online platforms such as Facebook, YouTube and Twitter need to monitor, filter and, if necessary, even remove content.
Lawyer Bauke van Laarhoven-Severs specializes in intellectual property rights. Copyright is part of this. According to her, the stricter rules are a challenge for platforms. “The more active you are as a platform, the more you can be held accountable and accountable for your behavior. By law, this type of communicator is increasingly subject to an obligation to prevent infringement and to screen more actively for specific content, such as tweets. An ‘upload filter’ can help with this, but unfortunately it does not always work or sometimes too often or quickly. Because all uploads are controlled by software, it’s also difficult to control. ”
The stricter rules are therefore well intended for producers, but difficult to comply with, according to Van Laarhoven. ‘In addition, the new law threatens freedom of expression. People do not want that. ”
Daymarks and NFTs
According to Van Laarhoven, in order to better protect yourself as a maker, it is important that you can prove exactly when you made your work. “There are many ways to do this, for example with so-called day stamps. All this can now be done online. “She therefore always advises her clients to submit an i-DEPOT of any copyrighted work.” You can also prove a date with it. Do you want to contact someone or are you contacted? Then you can show: I already had it in my hands at this time. ”
It is also possible to protect a digital work of art or object, such as this collage by the American artist Beeple or the first tweet from Twitter founder Jack Dorsey, with so-called NFTs: non-fungible tokens. These are unique, non-exchangeable tokens for attaching ownership to digital and sometimes physical works. “In this way, value is added to your work because there is only 1 person with a certificate of authenticity. On the other hand, scarcity is created by selling items’tokenize† Just look at Beeple’s work: In theory, anyone can make a digital copy of it. But only 1 person owns NFT at work and so on the real dealDwayne Djontono explains. He is the founder of Sticky Banana, the NFT agency for creators, collectors and inspirers.
According to Djontono, there is still too high a threshold for creatives to take the plunge into the NFT world. For example, as an NFT buyer, you do not receive the copyright to an item by default unless this is specified in NFT. “Owning an NFT does not mean that the person may also copy or distribute the underlying model, for example by physically printing and selling the model. This first requires the permission of the copyright owner. ”
In addition, anyone can be an NFT ‘mint‘(create) and link it to a design created by you and available online. “It is of course a disadvantage for you as the actual producer. Another will then run away with your potential income. ” Moreover, there is a very legal gap between what is tolerated and what is not allowed with NFTs. “You therefore see that there is often a physical object associated with a sale. This is passed on when NFT is sold. So what we do know is that NFT technology is still in full swing and it is not always clear what is legally possible with it. ”
According to Van Laarhoven, an advantage for producers is that they can fall back on their copyright. “With this, you only have the right to make your work public and to reproduce it. If someone else has to do it for you, for example by sharing your work online or in a brochure, copyright law offers the creator all sorts of rights. Think of compensation, an injunction where the infringer must stop what he is doing or a transfer of profits to provide insight into all kinds of parties and persons involved. ”
Because copyright is an intellectual property right, there is also a real regulation of legal costs for this type of case in the Netherlands. “This means that the loser in principle also pays the winner’s legal fees. We have indicative tariffs for this. A simple summary judgment, for example, costs around 6,000 euros. So if you notice that someone else is using your work, I would definitely seek authority by having a lawsuit filed by a lawyer. This is also known as a reminder. You will usually be reimbursed for these costs if you win a proceeding. ”
Secure your business
However, there is a threshold for litigation: According to Van Laarhoven, you only do it if you are really sure of your case. ‘It just depends on how a judge views a case. Copyright cases belong to a gray area and are very casuistic. My tip: a lawyer can give you legal advice in advance and make a good assessment. ”
SEO specialist Nathan Veenstra, copywriter Suzanne Peters and language professional Saskia van de Riet have all had to deal with copyright infringement. “Usually it can be solved quickly with a summary,” says Veenstra.