copyright & owning your data

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Putting your content online raises the question of copyright and what you can do to protect your material and files. As owner of the files, text and media – consider carefully where you will publish your files, how your ownership is respected and assured and which parties/services are involved.

What copyright will apply to your website once launched?

Given that your site’s content is both original at the date of creation and takes the form of  “original literary, dramatic, musical or artistic works, sound recordings, films or the typographical arrangement of published edition” (quoted from Introductory on Copyright, — it will be protected by copyright without formal registration.

Copyright under the laws of England and Wales: Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988 ↗

If you worked with a web team to get your site designed and developed, copyright of the design, underlying functions and other custom setups should be agreed by involved parties before project work begins. It is typical for the design’s copyright to be handed to you (usually with some rights reserved) and the code and setup to be licensed to you for use on your website alone.

own your own data

Your website is home of your content, be that text alone, or whether it includes visual media such images and icons and additional files such as downloadable files. By uploading the files to an external drive, such as your server – or to third parties, such as Facebook – you will have to agree to the terms of service of said party which outline how your files are handled and secured. You will be bound by this agreement – and the rights to your files will be determined by your acceptance of their TOS.

While no one likes reading lengthy legal agreements – we all need to be mindful of the implications and look out for our content ourselves. Trusting a third party with your content is not necessarily a bad idea. But it is important to be clear about which rights you might be giving up by using a service.

Hosting your site yourself and publishing your own content will ensure that you are in control of your material yourself. You will state your copyright and permissions on your website and make a clear legal statement. A photographer’s portfolio, for example, will state the copyright, confirm that all rights are reserved and outline permitted and prohibited uses as relevant.

This becomes more complicated when you involve third parties, such as photo sharing services.

file sharing services

With your site online – you might consider using other platforms for more exposure and increased promotion. There is no doubt that making use of social media can be very effective – our advice would be to plan carefully.

From a promotional perspective, it will be wise to select your chosen platforms carefully. Make yourself visible where your target group hangs out – rather than casting a wide net with the mere hope of reaching your audience.

From a copyright perspective, make sure you’re happy with how your chosen platform handles your content. Take the time to read their agreements and be clear about how your text and images are stored and shared.

references to popular services’ TOS

In short, before you choose to use any service which will manage your content – make sure to check on the terms of service, the set rules and the given guarantees regarding copyright and your privacy. No matter how tedious this task might be :)

plain language

There are some companies who are putting a lot of effort into making their legal agreements more easy to read and understand. But overall, the legalese is often difficult and laborious to read.

Trying to find some more accessible information we could share with our clients – we came across a report from the Children’s Commissioner’s Growing Up Digital Taskforce. The document advocates the development of digital resilience to educate young people about their rights online, a very good read.

The report includes an interesting experiment. Featured on page 10, you will find the draft of a simplified version of the Term and Conditions of Instagram, created by law firm Schillings.

Report from the Children’s Commissioner’s Growing Up Digital Taskforce © Children’s Commissioner 2017

view on website ↗
view report as PDF ↗

We would highly recommend that you have a look at this report despite is specific focus – and read page 10 specifically. It is quite a shock to read the terms written in such direct tone and clear wording.