Intellectual property (IP) is important in all professions that need creativity, particularly those that are emerging in the digital environment. The influencer marketing sector is predicted to be worth $15 billion by the end of 2022, thanks to the rapid rise in the popularity of content creators and promoters on the internet. At the moment, it amounts to around 15% of all advertising revenue spent globally.

Understanding the Essentials of Intellectual Property Rights (IPRs)

Any person who contributes information to any type of media in a specific context is referred to as a content creator. The act of creating content or information can take place on any digital platform, such as a personal blog or a social media site such as Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, or YouTube. To protect such creativity from unlawful use, it is necessary to seek protection under IP law. The unique authority to duplicate and distribute the work, as well as supervise and regulate how it is used by others, is granted by the IP vested in a subject matter.

We can demarcate IP as follows to broadly categorize rights and comprehend each category:

  • Copyright is a sort of intellectual property that protects original creative works including images, videos, writings, and cinematographic films, among other things. Copyright is particularly important in the context of content creators since they must acquire permission before using other people’s creative efforts. In some cases, everything available on the internet may not be covered by copyright and may require the acquisition of a license.
  • Trademarks are used to distinguish one’s goods and services from those of others by identifying, classifying, and indicating their origins. Before exhibiting a trademark on their social media accounts, creators must get the owner’s permission.
  • The online identity of an entity or a business is referred to as a domain name. Trademarks can even be registered for domain names. Once a trademark is registered, the owner gets all of the legal rights that come with any other trademark. As a result, it is critical to never infringe on the domain name of another company or person to disseminate or promote one’s label.

It is critical to be aware of the rights that may be vested through the said category of rights to avoid becoming embroiled in legal battles while employing IP assets that have been reserved by others. Apart from the aforementioned reasons, it is also vital for content creators to arm themselves with IP in addition to just keeping an eye out for works created by IP holders. Let’s look at the Intellectual Property Rights (IPRs) for content providers in this setting.

Why Understand & Invest in IP At All?

As previously stated, IP allows for the restriction and control of any unlawful use. In addition, IP aids in the following areas:

  1. IP aids in the differentiation of one’s business from those of competitors through legal safety nets and protections.
  2. It guards against direct and indirect copying of a company’s branding and marketing strategies.
  3. Through IP, a company’s legal transactions, such as partnerships and loans, can be kept confidential.
  4. It allows a company’s identity and assets to be protected from being misappropriated by others who manufacture counterfeits or pirated versions of the originals.

Checklist for Content Creators

  • Awareness of social media: When a content producer creates an account on a social media platform, he or she must agree to specific contractual duties outlined in the portal’s terms and conditions. When a content creator joins Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter, for example, the social media platform is granted permission to handle the creator’s data. As a result, it is vital to read the contract and disclaimers, which are frequently overlooked.
  • Public Disclaimer of Your Rights: While using a particular social media platform, the content creator must inform the public that the work, while published and made available to the public, is the creator’s intellectual property. As a result, it is recommended that the symbol be placed in a prominent location where the publication is done, together with the name and date of creation.
  • Using Watermarks & Adjusting Resolutions: When sharing photographs, using digital watermarks with the creator’s handle as a trademark or trade name is a fantastic option. Lowering the resolution of images and films can also be useful if a creator desires to limit the breadth of infringement and illicit copying. Lower resolution implies there is a limited scope of modifying and using it as a derivative work, therefore infringers will be kept at bay.
  • Awareness about Creative Commons Licenses: Creative Commons is a non-profit organization based in the United States that provides free legal instruments to protect and facilitate the distribution and reproduction of information and ideas. These tools contribute to the standardization of content consumption and distribution on the internet. Affiliates of Creative Commons guarantee that all users are aware of the work and impact of these licenses.


Content creation is a valuable profession, and as a material creator’s validity is based solely on the content, it is accepted that all types of creative content must be protected from imitators and illegal duplication. The typical IP approach is available; but, where cost and strategy allow, an alternative licensing path may be used. It all depends on the breadth and scope of a piece of content’s utilization, as well as the long-term strategy for leveraging one’s assets. As a result, all content creators must have a thorough awareness of the IPRs and licenses that govern the digital environment.

Understanding the Intersection of Traditional Intellectual Property Rights and Open Access Initiatives

Why would one choose to protect intellectual property (IP) from which one could potentially profit over making it freely available? Are there any types of IP that should be more widely available? These are complex questions that are still being explored and debated as our innovation economy and information sharing capacity evolve at a rapid pace.

Traditional IP Rights

Traditional intellectual property rights are granted for mental creations such as inventions and artistic works. These rights, which are mostly found in the form of patents, copyrights, trademarks, and trade secrets, are supported by a legal framework that grants the owner a limited monopoly over a specific creation for a limited time. IP can be found almost anywhere and is critical for economic growth in industries such as entertainment, publishing, pharmaceuticals, consumer electronics, and apparel, to name a few.

  • Patents Typically, parties seeking legal protection for intellectual property (IP) do so for commercial reasons. Patents establish a framework for sharing protected work while retaining commercial benefits such as product sales and licensing royalties. An individual inventor, for example, may patent a medical device and then sell that innovation to a large corporation. Often, the corporation can mass-produce the device at a lower cost, resulting in a lower cost to the consumer. It is a ‘win-win-win’ situation for the patent owner, who profits from the invention, the corporation that sells the device to the consumer, and the consumer, who can buy the device at a lower cost.
  • Copyrights Creative individuals who want to protect their works, such as songs, literary works, movies, and computer software, frequently benefit from intellectual property protection. Most of these works are presented to the public in the hope of gaining commercial benefit; however, without copyright protection, the product could be diluted, copied, and misused without compensation to the original creator.
  • Trademarks Businesses that use a specific word, symbol, or design to identify their products benefit from IP protection as well. In the film “Coming to America,” there is a hamburger chain called “McDowell’s,” which looks suspiciously like McDonald’s. It has a similar logo and products, such as the “Big Mick” burger and milkshakes, according to the joke. In the real world, the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) would almost certainly have rejected a “McDowell’s” trademark because of the likelihood of confusion with McDonald’s. A company that has created a brand and wants to protect it from “copycats” like these benefits from trademark protection, as do consumers who are otherwise harmed by market confusion.

Open Source & Open Access Initiatives

Open source and open access initiatives make various types of works available to the public.

Open access typically refers to the free distribution of research or educational materials online. Owners of these materials typically retain copyright and control over the distribution of the works. The Budapest Open Access Initiative, an international effort to make research articles in all academic fields freely available on the internet, is an example of open access. Another example is Creative Commons, a non-profit organization that provides licenses for a massive amount of creative, usually copyrighted, works. Its mission is to help people and organizations “overcome legal barriers to the sharing of knowledge and creativity to address the world’s challenges.”

The term “open source” often refers to free software, but it also refers to a larger conceptual movement. The Open-Source Initiative encourages the sharing of source code and offers advice on how to distribute it. Its principles include the requirement that a license “must not discriminate against any person or group of persons,” as well as the ability to distribute the source code. These principles are intended to encourage creativity while also providing access to code to people who might not otherwise be able to afford it.

So, why would a creator choose to give away his or her creative works for free? For one thing, creativity often breeds more creativity, and those who choose to present their works for free may do so with the hope of encouraging new ideas, products, and solutions to larger societal challenges. Furthermore, allowing free access levels the playing field slightly, allowing entrepreneurs and individuals to compete more effectively with large corporations with greater resources.

Of course, creators may wish to profit from their creations. A singer/songwriter who owns the rights to a piece of music, for example, is unlikely to give away his or her music for free. In general, they would monetize their copyright through methods such as live performances of their copyrighted works, publishing rights, record sales, and streaming. Traditional IP rights continue to be the norm in this area, despite an increasingly complex landscape, and policies such as the Music Modernization Act of 2018 aim to streamline and update copyright law for the digital era.

Striking a Balance

It can be difficult to strike a balance between traditional IP rights and open-source initiatives. Creators may wish to profit from their intellectual property while also considering the implications for society as a whole and how a specific creation can benefit society.

The Open COVID Pledge is one example of this convergence. The Pledge’s goal is to persuade “organizations all over the world to make their patents and copyrights freely available in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.” The Open COVID Pledge is currently managed by Creative Commons, and some of the innovations pledged by companies include touchless password authentication, access to healthcare data, and 3D-printed respirators. A creator can grant three types of licenses, including an “open COVID license” that expires after a set period.

There are advantages to taking the Pledge; for example, defeating the devastating COVID-19 virus will benefit humanity on a global scale, which will necessitate global participation and collaboration. Furthermore, Pledge companies are publicly recognized for their participation, generating goodwill that may result in commercial benefits elsewhere. Taking the pledge, however, may result in potential restrictions on IP licensing once the pandemic is over. Before taking the Pledge, some compliance issues must be addressed and considered. Also, how will derivative works be dealt with? While many companies have signed the Pledge and provided access to various patents and copyrights, these factors have prevented some key industries, such as medical device companies and pharmaceuticals, from fully embracing the Pledge’s principles.With a knowledge economy that has been ushered in over the last 60 years largely due to the incentives of traditional IP rights, the question of how to strike a balance with the extraordinary benefits of open access principles will be a challenge, an opportunity, and possibly the source of innovation. “We’re going to try to avoid the simplified intellectual property versus technology binary,” says Stan Muller of Crash Course. The notion that we must choose between undervaluing the fruits of intellectual talent and labor and undervaluing our networks’ revolutionary information-sharing capacity is misguided. The more interesting and difficult question is how we can find a happy medium.”