Thursday 26 September 2019

Why should voiceovers know about Intellecual Property?

In the United Kingdom there are different forms of intellectual property rights. They all individual and have different duration periods. They are all there to help you protect yourself against other people duplicating or stealing your work. 

The work could be the names of your products or brands, your inventions, the design or look of your products, the things you write, make or produce.  Among these is trademark, copyright and what we discuss in a subsequent post will be copyright. 

As a voiceover artist it is important you know what your rights are and as agents we work to protect those rights. We have turned down work if we cannot guarantee the client will adhere to IP rights. 

What exactly is intellectual property?

An idea by itself is not intellectual property. What is though, is what you do with it. So for example, it is something unique you create physically. An idea for a film is not intellectual property but writing the screenplay is. 

I have this idea for a plucky little fish that finds their voice and when I get around to putting pen to paper then it will be intellectual property. At the moment, then it is simply an idea swimming around my head. And now your head. 

So, who owns what?

There are three areas where IP rights can be owned. Specifically, you own it if you created it (and it meets the requirements for copyright, a patent or a design), you bought the IP rights from the creator or a previous owner, you have a brand that could be a trade mark. 

So I could have bought the rights to my Fish Story from someone else who either wrote it down or someone who had the rights themselves.

Also note that intellectual property can have more than one owner, belong to people or to businesses and can be sold or transferred.  

For example, my Little Fish Story could be owned by me and my fishy friend who collaborated on it, or a team who I wanted involved in it and should events happen that I find myself selling the story then I could decide that a business could own it.

If you are self-employed like many of our voiceover artists are then you usually own the intellectual property rights even if the work was commissioned by someone else. However, if you sign a contract, then that can change. 

This is why it really is important to read that fine print. We always check all contracts and NDAs so that you always retain ownership of your audio and we won’t sign our voices up to things if they are asking you to give up that particular IP right.

Now, if you are employed and you create something as part of your work while you were employed by someone else then you do NOT hold the intellectual property rights. 

In our next blog we will talk about copyright for voiceovers which is an intellectual property right.