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Content Rights for Creative Professionals: Copyrights & Trademarks in a Digital Age

COW Library : Business & Career Building : Timothy Allen : Content Rights for Creative Professionals: Copyrights & Trademarks in a Digital Age
CreativeCOW presents Content Rights for Creative Professionals: Copyrights & Trademarks in a Digital Age -- Business & Marketing Review


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Content Rights for Creative Professionals: Copyrights & Trademarks in a Digital Age
A Creative COW "Real World" Book Review


Timothy Allen reviews Content Rights for Creative Professionals: Copyrights & Trademarks in a Digital Age

Timothy Allen Timothy J. Allen
NASA Johnson Space Center
Houston, Texas, USA

© 2003 Timothy Allen and CreativeCOW.net. All rights are reserved.


Article Focus:
As a video producer, digital content creator, and one of the leaders of the "Business Practices & Marketing" forum here at the Cow, Timothy Allen gets questions about copyright and trademark rights almost everyday. "Media Rights" is one of the least understood, yet most important matters that producers, videographers, graphic artists, musicians, and editors should keep in mind in order to sustain a healthy business. In this article, Timothy Allen takes a look at Content Rights for Creative Professionals: Copyrights & Trademarks in a Digital Age, Second Edition by Arnold P. Lutzker and concludes that it's a 'must have' for anyone who creates content for profit.

Feed the COW. Buy this book.As a video producer, digital content creator, and one of the leaders of the "Business Practices & Marketing" forum here at Creative Cow, I get questions about copyright and trademark rights almost everyday. "Media Rights" is one of the least understood, yet most important matters that producers, videographers, graphic artists, musicians, and editors should keep in mind in order to sustain a healthy business.

For creative professionals, the importance of intellectual and creative content rights can't be understated. This "business" wouldn't be a business without the exchange of those rights. When we work to create content, it's the "rights" to use, distribute, and profit from that content that are really being bought and sold.

When I offered to review Content Rights for Creative Professionals, it wasn't because I expected it to be intriguing or even particularly interesting. It was because I wanted to gain a deeper understanding of some of the specific concepts and questions that I hear most often. (Questions like "Does the client own what I shoot?" and "How do I get the rights to a certain piece of music?")

Although the book answers these questions, it does so in a way that proved to be both intriguing and interesting. Obviously, one book can't answer every specific question that might be asked regarding content rights. At under 300 pages, this manuscript still manages to use real life examples to teach a basic understanding of what copyright, and trademark rights are, and it enables the reader to use that knowledge towards making sound decisions on a day to day basis. While you gain a better understanding of the fundamentals of content rights, you also find out why "It's a Wonderful Life" really became a Christmas staple each holiday season, and how Ted Turner used copyright law to his advantage to generate his billions in income with his "TBS Superstation".

Because laws can change so rapidly, and those changes can slip by unnoticed, there's a real risk of paying for old or outdated information when you buy a book about trademark and copyright. One major thing that sets this manuscript apart is that it's as "up-to-date" as it can possibly be. New themes for the second edition include the culture clash between the "Internet generation" (Napster and others) and traditional media content providers, and the implications of the Digital Millenium Copyright Act of 1998. Streaming media, domain names, and other things that we used to not have to worry about are covered in depth.

Content rights don't stop with the original creator. Rights to reproduce, perform, distribute and prepare derivative works are all unquestionably valuable commodities, and this book neglects none of these areas. It goes on to cover the concepts of fair use, rights to control access, antitrust laws, and other subjects that we should all endeavor to understand. Even such specific topics as colorization and other content altering processes (such as pan and scan and time compression) are covered thoroughly.

To keep all of this information fresh and accurate, the author not only references numerous online sources where you can go to "keep up" with the ever-changing specifics of content rights, but includes something else in the book that would be worth the cover price alone.- the companion CD-Rom. The Mac & PC compatible CD is filled with PDF, word text files, and HTML links that connect you to every conceivable website that you would ever want or need to visit when you are searching for the very latest information concerning copyright or trademark law. The CD is more than just a few words that are provided to give you insight into the author's research, it's over 800 MB of text and links to online information!

A short list of official government websites that the CD-Rom links to includes: the U.S. Copyright Office, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, the FCC, the FTC and Congress. Other links take you to all the major trade associations, music licensing societies (ASCAP, BMI etc.) and many other educational associations and reference sources.

Besides the government and trade organization links, there are files upon files of reference material. This material includes: statutory regulations, bills, regulatory decisions, U.S. court documents and reports, legislative history, and links to the full text of the Berne Convention, and other guiding documents from which International copyright law is based.

There's also a section of the CD-Rom titled "Office Documents" which contains several sample forms that you can modify and use when seeking to trademark or copyright your work. These include standard copyright and trademark applications, plus other documents such as "consent to use" forms and even a basic non-disclosure agreement. These are many of the same forms and documents that the author uses in his highly successful legal practice in Washington, D.C.

COW Rating: Creative professionals and students who read this book will gain a valuable foundation in media law that will serve them throughout their career. It's definitely a "must have" for anyone who creates content for profit.
4 out of 5 Cows.


-TJA



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