Intellectual property rights matter

Published on 12.08.2018 | Translations available in: German

Intellectual property rights matter

The new EU regulation on the protection of natural persons with regard to the processing of personal data (General Data Protection Regulation, GDPR) recently came into force, and it has already caused a great deal of uncertainty for Swiss enterprises. The next EU debate has already begun, and this could have very strong effects on the internet, too. Even though the final wording of the reform is still undergoing negotiations, the draft contains two controversial points concerning the freedom in the digital world.

It happens quickly in Web 2.0: a picture is shared, a text is reposted, contents are taken over for your own post. And, just as quickly, the citing a reference or obtaining permission for use from the creator is forgotten. The EU now wants to stop this. Two provisions are of special importance.

upload filters should make sure that only data, where the creator has granted permission for use, can be uploaded onto online platforms. This would not only affect large providers like Google, Facebook, and Instagram, but would influence all website owners. Critical voices fear that the net will no longer be able to exist in its current form. For example, the Meme culture would become difficult to maintain, and collaborative projects such as Wikipedia could no longer be continued in their present form.

a right protecting ownership should already provide a financial remuneration to the creator or publisher when their texts are taken over, even if it is only short fragments. This will be an additional hurdle for using others' contents; at the same time, publishers would benefit from this measure.

What does this mean for my website?

Even though the reform package is merely a draft, you should already take appropriate measures in advance. This can prevent nasty surprises if the proposed law should come into force. Moreover, a conscientious and correct treatment of intellectual property rights is always advantageous, both from a legal and ethical view. But what measures can you already take now?

Focus on your own content

Anyone who produces his own content is also its creator and thus avoids the situation of not having usage rights. Regardless of whether these are pictures, text, or videos – anyone who creates themselves is on the safe side. It is important that the content is of excellent quality and attractive. If you do not have the resources and know-how to produce your own content, outsourcing and purchasing are an alternative way for obtaining it. If, you want to use outside property, however, there are also options to do so.

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Ask permission

You want to share a picture belonging to another person or an enterprise? You would like to use a section of a text? Ask the creator in advance and procure the usage rights. Do not forget to clarify if and in which form any source citation should be made – and also make sure that it is done accordingly.

Use databases for royalty-free contents

There are stock databases for both photos and videos where content can be procured and used commercially without a license. On the one hand, there are servicers who charge royalties, but visual content can also be procured at no cost. In this case, as well, it is important to exactly clarify in advance how each picture or video can be used, and whether a source must be cited or not. 

What happens with my content?

If you run a website, you do not only have to obey intellectual property laws; you should also observe carefully what happens with your own content. If some of your content should suddenly appear on another site against your will, you do not have to accept that. Contact the provider and inform him or her about the situation. At most, this will result in a synergy. If contacting the provider does not meet your expectations, you can decide whether you want to take legal steps – because your intellectual property belongs to you.

Link to the complete position of the EU states on the reform of the intellectual property rights: http://www.consilium.europa.eu/media/35373/st09134-en18.pdf 

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