Outsourcing and International Copyright Laws

More people are choosing to outsource their company’s work today, then ever before. With India comprising more than 80% of the total global outsourcing field, understanding international copyright laws is critical. It is also imperative that you make certain that the outsourcing company that you agree to work with also understands and abides by international copyright laws.

Lately there has been tremendous controversy regarding outsourcing, piracy, and plagiarism. This is especially prevalent in India, where more companies outsource than in any other country. Copyright is applicable to all web content. Whether it is a blog post, or an image in a newspaper, or magazine. If you don’t have the rights to the media, it is under copyright. It is crucial that companies understand that not only is all content copyrighted the moment it is made, but also these copyrights are international.

How do I know what is Copyrighted?

Basically, as soon as a work is created it is under copyright protection. A great place to learn more about copyrights is the World Intellectual Property Organization. It also discusses the various laws regarding trademarks, Industrial Design, IP for developers, and patents. Some content may be in the public domain.

These works may be distributed freely across the Internet, however if you are outsourcing to a company, you can be sure they shouldn’t be using public domain works on your site. Of course, there may be some exceptions, but make sure that you work with the company to determine the type of rights that were used for your products.

If a company uses works in the public domain and you ask, they should make this clear to you. So basically, if it isn’t in the public domain, or under a “creative commons” or free license, it is copyrighted.

What if My Work has been Stolen?

If you discover that your work has been stolen, you will more than likely experience a state of anger and frustration. Sometimes, innocent or novice websites may steal your content, not realizing that it is under copyright. Other times, they may not follow your instructions.

For instance, many people will allow the use of their content to be posted on another site, as long as there is a link back to the original owner of the content. By failing to follow the author’s terms of use, the user is breaking the law.

Sometimes, content is stolen in a much blatant way. Some people will simply copy someone’s content word for word without any regard to the original author or the laws that protect those rights.

If your work has been stolen, you will want to send a “Cease and Desist” letter. This can be very effective in having people remove your work. However, you may also choose to pursue legal action as well.

Read Jonathan Bailey’s take on “Content Theft: A Guide for Community Admins”

How can I protect my Work?

For those who worry about their work being infringed upon or stolen, the best preventive measure is to actually have the work copyrighted. It is true, that once an author creates a work it is under copyright, but this may be very difficult to prove in a court of law. If you should ever need to take someone to court, you will find that it is more effective in a court of law to have the proof of as part of your evidence. This will also make it simpler to handle cases that may be international.

• Make sure you know International Copyright Laws before outsourcing

• If you have content that you are worried may be stolen, have it copyrighted.

• Visit the World Intellectual Property Organization Copyright Treaty to understand more about International Copyrights.

Read Lorelle’s post on What Do You Do When Someone Steals Your Content

When outsourcing or working with global clients, you must be wise and take steps to prevent copyright violations and infringement.

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