Intellectual property rights are universal rights that help individuals, organizations & institutes to protect their Ideas / Innovation and concepts and trade secrets, so others can’t copy it and resell it as their own. Intellectual property rights include patents, copyright, industrial design rights, trademarks, plant variety rights, trade dress, geographical indications and in some jurisdictions trade secrets.
Oldest reference to Intellectual Property Rights was in 500 BCE, the government of the Greek state of Sybaris offered one year’s patent “to all who should discover any new refinement in luxury”. During the feudalism era all the creations of any genre and form were directly owned by the King or Queen of that kingdom. Similarly in Industrial era, all the creations, innovations and works of arts were directly owned by the owners of the factories for whom the laborers/ employees worked.
However, in 1960s all the developed nations felt the need of creativity and innovation for sustainable economic growth. To enable this thought process various Intellectual Property Rights were created and agreed through United Nations to create global IP laws with some country specific laws.. Different types of laws under IPR recognizes the innovative efforts of creative people in the forms of products, software, designs, artworks, craft-work, literature, songs, music as well as protecting the cultural rights of various regions worldwide.
Current stage of Copyrights Usages & Infringements:
According to International Trademark Association (INTA) and the International Chamber of Commerce, global Infringement market in 2015 was $1.7 Trillion Dollars and is predicted to be $3.22 Trillion by 2022. Visual arts market currently is approximately $1 Billion which account for only Auction and Private Sales of Paintings & Sculptures & Photographic works in world’s leading auction houses & galleries alone. There is a big market in fashion, accessories, handicrafts globally which is not accounted for due it its unorganized way of working.
Currently in India or developing countries importance of copyrights in Arts & literature sector is quiet negligible, people still keep copies of proof of works or send a self address registered mail and store that unopened self-address envelope as idea protection. These methods worked before the digital era, now infringements happen at far more sophisticated level making it difficult to prove the original maker his mark. Copyrights awareness is not done enough so many people have misconceptions about the copyrights. Artist believes that after copyrights are registered for their works, its infringement should be control or enforced automatically by some authority. However, the main reason we have copyright is to claim for financial damages & levy to the infringing company or person if it ever happens. So it’s like taking an insurance of your creations, which one has done painstakingly over sustained period of time.
Currently not many visual artists opt for copyrights soon after creating their works & miss out on the protection of their future earnings lost due to infringement & commercialization by third parties. Similarly artists, who have taken copyrights for their creations, don’t mention their registrations details while publishing their works. Copyrights law requires the owner to ensure they have done their fair part in stopping the infringements.
Benefits of Copyrights for the artists or artisans:
Copyrights protect the economic interest of artists and artisans who invest a lot of time and effort in creating their unique art of works. Since their livelihood is dependent on selling of their finished creations, copyright registration ensures the infringement party pays the damages to original owner of the artworks.
Copyrights law is applicable globally and is valid for 70 years after the death of its original owner. This means one artwork created once and copyrighted can be sold through other third party channels or the owner himself to generate multiple incomes. The same revenues can be enjoyed by their next generation. Whereas, for craftsmen can apply for copyrights law, design patent & geographical indications to protect their intellectual rights.
Music industry became robust due to the copyright laws. Every time a music is played in events, advertisement or remixed version is created the original maker of the song, lyricist get royalties for his original effort and concept.
Similarly below chart shows the various application of single artwork that can reap royalties for artists if they invest in copyrights of their works every time.
Challenges of implementing copyrights for the artists:
Copyright process is very tedious and involves precision in paperwork. Also there are few exceptions or differentiation in where copyright is applicable and where it’s not, make it challenging for individual artists to apply on their own. Hiring a registered IP patent lawyer can be expensive and finding the right ones in India is challenging.
Even if copyright is registered, it’s challenging for the author / owner to find out about the infringement due to the vast Internet and Digital world with rampant piracy issues. Artists are not sure how to react or the legal course of action one needs to take when an infringement takes place.
Future of Copyrights in Arts & Crafts Industry:
Awareness of copyrights needs to be increased rapidly, so more people apply for it. This will help the authorities to take strict action on counterfeit products & manufacturers globally. Use of software to track the circulation of artwork images will also enable artists to enforce the copyrights & stop infringements. The latest technology like Block-chain can be used to help artists in visual arts benefit royalties from every resell of their artworks around the world. Block-chain technology allows records like provenance, authorship and ownership to be unmodified, thus potentially solves the issue of forgeries and thefts in the art world.
It’s high time that creative industry people working artists or artisans start taking pride in their creations and asking their due respect from the society. This industry can become mainstream industry by 2020 if they adopt the latest Artificial Intelligence & block-chain technology along with business professionalism.
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