KopyCat is a community-driven platform for artist and designers to highlight any copyright infringement or plagiarism of their original artworks. KopyCat is a Kulture Shop initiative to #SupportTheArtist. Know Your Rights is the first in a series of events. Thanks to Desai & Partners for their support.
At Kulture Shop, we’ve always championed for artist rights. We’ve been concerned with how to help artists be more informed and claim their rights. KopyCat is an attempt to tackle the vast issue of copyright infringement in a way that’s accessible. With every new case bringing up nuances that have never been tackled before, this is an important, ongoing discussion that we must have in the art & design community.
Disclaimer: The information in the presentation and blog post does not constitute legal advice and is for information purposes only.
The event was moderated by Kiran Desai and Surekha Srinivasan, lawyers from Desai & Partners – a leading media, entertainment and intellectual property focused law firm based in Mumbai.
After a short introduction by Design Director & Co-Founder Kunal Anand, Kiran Desai, founder of Desai & Partners took the floor.
Desai started by defining ‘artistic work’ under the Copyright Act, 1957. He elaborated on the various forms of graphic art – including illustration, graphic design and typography.
He established the difference between authorship and ownership. He explained that the artists will always be the author of the work – that is an inalienable right of the author. However, in certain circumstances, the author may not be the owner of a work for example, if the work is created under a contract of employment or at the instance of another person for a valuable consideration.
Kiran Desai explaining the difference between authorship and ownership of work.
He outlined three simple ways an artist can establish authorship of work created: by posting and emailing the work to yourself, and by applying for copyright registration.
Desai further elaborated on how one can protect their copyright by marking all sketches, drawings etc. with the year of creation, the name of the copyright owner and contact details and storing the same in a secure place. A copyright owner has the right to reproduce, distribute and adapt the work. They can also license the work, ie, a limited permission to use the work.
He also touched upon the topic of infringement – a subject that many artists feel unequipped to deal with. A copyright is infringed when any person without authorization from owner uses or exploits the copyrighted work.
Surekha (left) and Kiran (right) highlighting cases of infringement.
A few steps an artist can take if their work is infringed:
Document the infringement
Initiate takedown proceedings (if online; most e-commerce companies have takedown policies)
Send a cease and desist notice
Please note: the artist or the author has to take these steps themselves. The licensor or any third party can’t take these steps on their behalf.
Desai also spoke works that are not cases of infringement – for example, a work that is based on a piece of architecture or public property. (See Page 19 in the presentation.) Keep in mind that the name of the organization or building might be trademarked in which case it cannot be used in the artwork.
You can view the full presentation:
The talk was followed by an extensive Q& A round.
Under the Copyright Act, 1957 an artistic work is under copyright protection sixty years after the death of the author. Read more about The Copyright Act in India.
All artists and designers should be providing their clients with some form of agreement to secure themselves. While drafting, you must include the scope of work, territory, medium and any details that might be applicable.
Smashing Magazine has compiled a wide selection of contracts and agreements for designers for various short-term and long-term projects. You can use these templates to create a custom agreement suited to your needs. Please read and edit before using them as most of them follow US based laws.
The copyright in a work done by an employee on their own time and not in the course of their employment belongs to them. Unless agreed upon in a contract, the copyright owner of a work done by an independent contractor stays with them.
Although social media has the provisions of attaching a date and identity to the artwork posted, it is not solid proof. To secure themselves, artists should email or post themselves the work on the day of completion.
Please be careful and read the terms and conditions while using any images from websites like Creative Commons. The works under Creative Commons are also subject to certain conditions.
If you have any specific questions or any topics you’d like us to tackle in the next session, write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you’d like to get in touch with Desai & Partners, write to them email@example.com
Support other artists by highlighting any cases of plagiarism or infringement with KopyCat. Find us on: