Monday 27 April 2020

Why do Voiceover Artists need to know about Intellectual Property Rights?

Today we are going to take a look at rights and here at BigFish Media our voiceovers and their audio productions are our top priority. Ok let’s move right along – see what we did there?

What is intellectual property and why should voiceovers know about it?
In the UK there are different forms of intellectual property rights. They are 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.  Amongst these is trademark, copyright and what we discuss in a subsequent post will be copyright.

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.

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 all 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 voice talent up to things if they are asking you to give up that particular IP right.
Now, for those non self-employed workers. If you happen to 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 voiceover artists which is an intellectual property right.