As a freelancer, irrespective your field of expertise, you’re most likely constantly creating new content as part of your work. Content can take many forms, including reports, training materials and creative designs… the list is endless.
Unfortunately this means you’re exposed to the risk that someone steals and benefits from what you’ve created, or you may even inadvertently infringe on someone's copyright. There are some things you should be looking out for, and simple steps you can take to protect yourself.
How can you be sure you’re providing original work when you see up to 10,000 advertisements per day
Think about how many advertisements you are exposed to each day - on your way to and from work, on the tv, on your phone and computer.
You may have seen a logo on your coffee cup one morning, not even taken notice of it, and suddenly that afternoon you’re creating almost the spitting image of it for a client. It was subconscious, but still illegal.
Some of the most employed industries which could be liable for copyrighting claims are:
- Copywriter, Content Marketer, Web/Graphic Designer and Coder.
- Content/Design/Code was unintentionally copied, stolen or remastered.
- Advertiser, Public Relations, Blogger, Writer, Journalist.
- Content/words unintentionally stolen and/or bears similarity to others.
For some, it was the lack of sourcing non copyrighted content.
A travel agent uploaded a photograph taken by a professional photographer for use on her travel agency business to promote Hawaii as a destination. She did not obtain a licence to use the photograph or give any attribution to the photographer. The photograph was used without any enquiry into the ownership or authorship of the copyright. She failed to properly respond to the allegation of copyright infringement. The judge awarded damages of US$1850 (reflecting the lost licence fee) and a further amount of AU$12,500 (due to her conduct conduct). The photographer was also awarded legal costs in the amount of AU$9,500.
There are some simple precautions you can take...
Firstly, be aware of the rules. If you’re not sure, get some advice. Ensure you have some internal checks in place to ensure you are compliant.
The Australian Copyright Council provides clear information about copyright matters and offer a free legal advice service for those in the arts sector.
Do your research before you start any work, or provide a service.
There are tools available to check your work and designs are original. Using Google to search for existing works; simply upload your work and it will automatically find any works with similarities. You can also search trademarked icons, patents and designs through online databases. IP Australia has a search system.
If you’re not sure, checking with an IP protection lawyer is always a safe option too.
Get in the habit of using contracts and non-disclosure agreements with your clients and customers, so you have proof of what task was agreed upon.
Be diligent when you outsource work. If you hire another freelancer or agency to create something for you, don’t assume they have done their research and followed the correct protocols. Spending a little time doing your own research could save a lot of pain later.
Check you have adequate insurance. It isn’t just a smart choice, it could also save you from bankruptcy one day. The legal costs associated with defending a claim for alleged negligence, and the fines if you are found to be at fault can run in to the thousands or even millions of dollars.
Insurance enables you to do your business with peace of mind.
Professional Indemnity insurance is a type of insurance that protects you whilst you provide your professional services. Evari specialises in providing insurance for Freelancers, and it’s easy to arrange and more affordable than you may think.
As with any insurance, you should do your research before buying:
- Check how much you are insured for. Is it adequate enough to cover the costs of a claim?
- How much is the Excess amount for each claim (often called the deductible).
- Is it easy to change your insurance, or cancel if your circumstances change?
- Read the policy to understand what what is included or excluded, and if there is anything youre not sure about be sure to ask your insurer.
With Professional Indemnity (PI) insurance, your premium goes to paying for work you’ve done in the past. If you cancel your PI insurance, you may not be covered for any future claims that relate to work you have done whilst you held the insurance.
It may be weeks, months or even years after you have provided your services before a client decides they are not happy and makes a claim.
Evari makes it really easy to make a choice about which periods of prior work you want to be insured for - giving you the flexibility to shape the cover to suit your needs, and potentially make considerable savings.
Evari offers flexible insurance designed specifically for freelancers.
Head to www.evari.insure today and get a quote for your business.