Traditionally, creative types have been compelled to offer their work to the end-user via wealthy gatekeepers who have had access to the capital needed to exploit the work. In doing so, they have signed over most of their rights to the middlemen in return for a small percentage of the royalties earned from the sale or exploitation of their work.

With the advent of the internet, a new platform has developed for creatives to offer their work to the market without having to go through the gatekeepers. However, there is a downside: this new platform is also a breeding ground for copyright infringement.

Aside from the highly-publicized battles raging between the recording and movie industries vs housewives and students, many smaller creative firms and individual freelancers that sell their wares online are simply being robbed blind.

Copyright infringement is facilitated by technology

Digitization and convergence of technology has made it very easy and cheap for idea pirates to pilfer the creative works of others and to pass them off as their own. Digital data can now be easily copied, compressed and transferred rapidly to a number of different formats without any loss of quality. It is cheap to do and many people, even those with a limited knowledge of computing can do it. Dave O’Reilly just wrote a very good article on the subject: Technology meets copyright.

The world’s governments have passed a number of new laws to try to protect the rights of creative people but these laws are often limited by geographically boundaries. In the online world, there are no geographical boundaries. This makes it harder to not only catch the culprits but also to enforce legal rights in foreign courts and to get compensation.

A solution to online copyright infringement is available

What is needed is a proactive approach to copyright protection by the individual creatives themselves. Unfortunately, a hangover from the traditional model has been that creatives are ignorant of their rights because they always relied on the middlemen to protect their work. After all, it is the middlemen who had the most to lose from copyright infringements. Knowing their rights and utilizing the right tools to protect those rights will go a long way to solving this issue.

Thankfully, the free-market finally seems to be catching a wake-up and providing some interesting and at times unorthodox methods and tools to empower the smart creative and assist in establishing and protecting her or his copyright. One great example is

It’s based on a simple logic:

  1. At the end of the day, deterring copyright thieves or having copied material removed or destroyed requires that you give them a good reason to do so (they’re thieves after all)
  2. This, in turn, requires that you have a decent case and are prepared to pursue it (infringers are unlikely to bow to empty threats).
  3. A good case means good evidence (the best evidence in fact)
  4. One of the most important pieces of evidence in the average copyright case is the date on which you can prove that you were in possession of your work.

Sites such as Myows help you do just this by allowing you to create reliable third party proof as you work. The app also has some nifty features that help you pursue infringers and build a case when you find your work has been copied. If you’re a creative type and you take your work seriously, take a few moments to explore your copyright protection options online!