Are our designs safe online? Research into Intellectual Property, Copyright and the Internet – Assignment Four

To understand in more detail if our designs are safe online I felt it necessary to do extra research so I could grasp more of the theory behind  the Internet and the World Wide Web.  The Internet is relatively new and has slowly creeped into our lives until we are dependant on it.  Naughton, 2010 writes “The Internet went from being something exotic to being boring utility, like mains electricity or running water – and we never really noticed”.  But how much do we understand of these resources because  the Internet and the World Wide Web are two completely different things, invented by different people and for different purposes.  The Internet according to W3C (2010)  “is a global system of interconnected computer networks that interchange data by packet switching using the standardized Internet Protocol Suite (TCP/IP)”. It was  invented by  Vinton G. Cerf and Robert E. Kahn in the early 1970’s. When Cerf and Kahn first designed the internet they did it so that it would work in the future and that no particular person or company could own it.  It was simply a means for interchanging packets of information, regardless of what that information was.  This of course meant that no one needed permission to exchange information but also no one could control malicious parcels and theft from these parcels. So when Tim Berners-Lee invented the World Wide Web  whilst  working for CERN the European Organization for Nuclear Research, as a way of making communication on computers easier worldwide, he didn’t need the permission of anyone.  There’s an excellent diagram explaining the process here.  Naughton (2010) likens the Internet to a railway track with signalling and with traffic running along the tracks and the world wide web as just one of the different kinds of traffic. Others being instant messaging, music files from iTunes, email etc.

Even before the question can be asked about online protection we have to ascertain what is exactly covered by copyright law because when many of us put our art work online we don’t ask ourselves this question. Simon Stokes, solicitor and partner of Blake Lapthorn and an expert in his field (Chambers UK, 2011) recently had an article published  ‘can the law protect works of art and what exactly does it protect?’  In this article Stokes looks at what types of artwork are protected by copyright in the UK.  He uses the s4 Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988 as his source of information and examples of the works protected include graphic work, photographs and works of artistic craftsmanship.  In a court of law where the artwork does not fall within a certain category  “the Judge may well look at the intention of the creator and her status (as an artist)” (Stokes, 2009). Copyright law protects original art and this law differs between countries, in the UK the art work should not be a copy and must possess an element of skill and effort, in continental countries the work should have the stamp of the artist and in US law the work must have a nominal amount of creativity.

Stokes looked at cases where artists’ work had been reworked by other artists. He uses the example of the allegations of plagiarism following the Turner Prize exhibition entry of Glen Brown for his work The Loves of Shepherds, which was allegedly inspired by an illustration by Anthony Roberts for a book jacket. A similar case in the US used the defense that the work was changed so dramatically and therefore not in competition with the original, this is known as the “doctrine of fair use”.  At present we don’t have such a law in the UK although (Stokes 2009) asks, “whether this should be broadened along US lines”. To prove breach of copyright in the UK, the percentage of the artwork copied is taken into account and how much of the original artists’ idea. UK copyright law also recognises the so-called “idea/expression” dichotomy — “copyright protection shall extend to expressions and not ideas”, (Stokes, 2009).

According to Stokes there are two types of UK copyright cases, the first, those who find their work/idea has been used dishonestly e.g. within adverts and those whose work has been reworked e.g. magazine covers/photographs used in mixed media. He feels that if the law is increased in one area the public domain will suffer and freedom to use others work as inspiration will become more difficult but on the other hand weakening the law by introducing a fair use policy  puts more pressure on the original artist to protect their design. At present Stokes is following the case of Cariou v Prince which is testing current copyright protection where Prince has quite blatantly used the photography of Cariou in his artwork.

So what happens within the world of textile design?  With the increase in cutting edge textiles and products it is now more important than ever to have Intellectual Property Rights to protect the designer and the time and money invested in the design.  As we have just completed our first project Natural Pattern, I’ve become more aware of the investment that goes into producing a design, whether this is under the umbrella of a new or an existing trademark whatever the business size, this includes research into the design brief, future style trends, contextual market, sampling, prototypes and pricing policy etc.  Lane- Rowley (1997) suggests looking at Intellectual Property Protection of a new design in a “business context” and starting small reduces the risk that a “major innovation” could involve.

Within the UK, IP law can become very complex and for every stage of the design, different IP rights can apply.  With an original design, when the first mark is made on paper or computer, copyright is automatic, the same applies to the design of the product whether for fashion or interiors ‘”design rights are automatic”  (Lane- Rowley, 1997), these are both known as Statutory Rights.

Registered Rights are more formal; they are based “on monopoly rights as opposed to control of copyright-based ownership rights” (Lane- Rowley, 1997).  They involve cost and time and in a law court they would almost always protect the registered design.  One point Lane-Rowley makes very clear is that before registering the design never share your idea with anyone who is not connected directly to the company, as this constitutes prior publication and before attending any trade shows, designs should always be registered. This registration is made through the UK Patent Office.

Where design rights might not be protected in the law courts is when a prior search has not been carried out to ascertain if the design you’ve created is already registered.  This also applies to trademarks especially when smaller companies who are not known nationally or internationally have registered their name.  Here the designer could have invested in labeling and packaging only to find that someone is already registered to use that name/trademark.

Possession of IP rights including both statutory and registered are all seen as assets and can be traded as such.  A designer about to commence working for a company will have to check their contract of employment before signing.  The terms of ownership for the designs created will be included in the contract.  Designers may also have an agent who represents them, here the designs are sold through this third party and its important to make clear what the design can and cannot be used for.

With the design protected it is the onus of the designer to make certain that their IP rights are not broken.  To reinforce these rights items can be marked.  In the case of automatic copyright, designs and drawings can be marked with the  © symbol, followed by the designers name and year. This symbol is recognised internationally.  Where the items are clothing or products, labels can be attached or sewn in and on fabric this is the selvedge edge.  The information on these labels should include ownership information and registration number.  For registered designs the patent number is applied to the design and for trademarks, TM is placed after the name until the trademark is accepted and then ® is placed after the name.  Lane- Rowley (1997) makes it clear that although copyright marking is not required by law in the UK a designer will have more support should a case arise.

One thing is certain, the world of copyright law is not for the everyday artist and I think this is where things need to change.  Artists should be able to access very clear and easy to understand information. After reading other articles and books written by Stokes it is quite obvious he is an expert in his field. I found his article ‘can the law protect works of art and what exactly does it protect?’  difficult to work through perhaps because it was condensed and I had to dissect every sentence looking up the different policies, cases quoted and legal meanings, I came away with a better understanding but it was hard work.  Perhaps a better choice would have been his book Art and Copyright.  In the book the types of artwork are in clear sections with clear references.  Lane-Rowleys’ book, “Using Design Protection in the Fashion and Textile Industry” was a good choice to read.  It looks at all aspects of textile design and protection and perhaps should be made a set text for textile design students as it covers many cases, explains them and is in a language I could understand.  Neither Stokes nor Lane-Rowley gave opinion on the subject, both used well referenced cases and information, which as far as I’m aware, is up to date.

Our work needs to be protected but at what point should the artist find out about copyright and design rights, after their designs have been stolen?  I can understand why those just starting out in the industry bury their heads and hope it will all go away but perhaps it should be taught as part of our university degree, after all the processes we go through to create our amazing designs we then go and have them stolen because the world of Intellectual Property is like a foreign language. Whilst researching I came across an article in Design Week about a new software application Creative Barcode which launched in September 2010.  It is aimed at designers who send their designs ideas via the Internet to large companies, this in the past this has lead to IP theft.  Creative Barcode will embed barcodes into the designers’ ideas, proposals and innovations and the company interested  can access the designs once they’ve agreed to the Creative Barcode terms and conditions; including agreeing to inform the designer of any production/manufacturing plans they may have.  The barcodes can be inserted into CAD, digital, graphic and text files as well as onto paper designs.  Creator Maxine Horn says “the device is born out of my many years working in the creative industries and noticing that the problem of idea theft is growing …”  There is a cost associated with this but for those who just don’t have time to research the subject and want to design instead of playing lawyer it could be the ideal answer.  The site can be accessed here with much more information about the process.  An organisation which welcomes Creative Barcode is ACID (Anti Copying in Design)  who are committed to raising awareness of Intellectual Property theft.  It is a member organisation again with lots of advise and a FAQ section. If you want to learn more about IP and copyright there is now an online course which is provided by the British Library, it is free to everyone.

We can help ourselves too.  Perhaps stopping and thinking about if we really want to place our designs on-line whether on web sites, blogs or social networking sites.  If the answer is yes we do, then watermarks can be made easily in photoshop and placed into the image.  If this doesn’t appeal, save the upload image in as low resolution as possible.   Of course this doesn’t prevent the idea being stolen and that is something we have to way up if we want our art work to be seen by the masses.

I do realise that this became more about protection over all than  about on-line protection but I feel we have to understand the underlying details before we can even start to tackle  the problems of on-line theft.  Hopefully  artists will become aware of the problems that can arise and by taking a little time to educate themselves can save a lot of time, effort and money in the future.

British Library, 2010. Free online courses on Intellectual Property, (online),

available from:

European Organization for Nuclear Research, 2008. How the web works,

(online), available from:

ICAN, 2010. The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers,

(online), available from: .

Accessed 8th December 2010

Lane-Rowley, Ulla, V., 1997. Using design protection in the fashion and textile industry. Chichester: John Wiley.

Naughton, J., 2010.  The internet: Everything you ever need to know, (online),

available from:

Accessed 11th November 2010

Relph-Knight, L., ed.,2010. Creative Barcode software unveiled to protect designers from intellectual property theft. Design Week,  25 (37), 4.

Stoke, S., 2003. Art and Copyright. Oxford: Hart Publishing

Stokes, S., 2009. Can the law protect works of art and exactly what does it protect? Art Newspaper, 18 (201), 35.

The Library of Congress, 2010. Copyright The United States Copyright, (online),

available from:

Accessed 8th December 2010

W3C, 2010. The People of W3C, (online),

available from:

Accessed 11th November 2010

Further research into;

Design protection abroad in more detail both in the US and Europe, using The Library of Congress and European Commission web sites.

Licensing of designs; Intellectual Property Office, UK

Watermarking photographs using adobe photoshop

Are our designs safe online? Research into Intellectual Property, Copyright and the Internet

I’ve been researching the subject of Intellectual Property to help me in my understanding of intellectual property theft, using cross search an online tool offered by the University of Dundee. It enables students to research a specific subject and the results show books, journals and online journals on the subject.  This hasn’t been an easy subject to understand but I wanted to keep going with it as so many artists and designers including myself are putting artwork on line now whether on blogs, Facebook or websites.  Listed below are a number of journals and books who look at the subject and I have tried to summarise the content and whether they will help in the future should I take this further.

Brown, A., Laurie, G. T., MacQueen,H., Walde, C., 2010.  Contemporary intellectual property : law and policy. Oxford  : Oxford University Press

New edition and with the latest in intellectual property law for UK, Europe and internationally. This is more a study book to help students studying law and it has examples, exercises and visual aids.  This is probably a good place to start to help me understand the complexities of the whole subject.

Lane-Rowley, Ulla, V., 1997. Using design protection in the fashion and textile industry. Chichester: John Wiley.

This book looks at design ownership and protection, answers questions about copyright, patents and  trademarks.  It also looks at how efficient the law is and if its worthwhile for a businesses to use it and finally what are the costs in terms of time money and registering designs.
This is quite old in terms of the law but would still be interesting to look at the answers with regard to  copyright etc especially as its aimed at the textile industry.

Lovett, G., 2007. A rocky road to market. Design Week, 22 (18), 9.

This item looks at how designers can manage the costs, complications and legalities around intellectual property to see their ideas through to development. There is also some imput from the design industry.

As this is a journal article Im not expecting too much information here and once again a lot can change in 3 years. The information from the designers would be interesting though to see it from their perspective.

Relph-Knight, L., ed., 2010. Acid Test. Design Week,  25 ( 7),  17.

Introduces a basic history on copyright and with information from ACID and Dare Studio, this article offers advice to designers on how to protect their intellectual property.

This interests me as ACID (Anti Copying In Design) are an organisation who want to educate, prevent, deter and  support, through raising awareness and with its strength of membership are a big deterrent.

Relph-Knight, L., ed.,2010. Creative Barcode software unveiled to protect designers from intellectual property theft. Design Week,  25 (37), 4.

This article from September this year informs about a new piece of software

This is an software application which can be purchased for a small fee, you receive 5 barcodes, file transfer space and the use of the Registered at Barcode logo.  The barcodes are unique to you and once attached to your art work give protection to your work on the internet and from what I understand your images can only be downloaded with your permission.

For students they offer a 50% discount!

Stoke, S., 2003. Art and Copyright. Oxford: Hart Publishing

For the everyday person this book looks in detail at the intellectual property rights for artists and their work.  It looks at the internet and the associated problems arising with copyright, trade marks etc. Comes with recommendations from intellectual property journalists.

From what I’ve read about copyright Stokes is an expert.  This book appeals as its aimed at artists, and copyright regarding the internet.

Stokes, S., 2009. Can the law protect works of art and exactly what does it protect? Art Newspaper, 18 (201), 35.

This article looks at how artists are using the law when copyright has been infringed and at which types of work are protected in both Britain and America.  There are examples of artists whose work has been illegally used and the author puts the case forward for both parties.

This article could be interesting in terms of a real life case, but also to read the arguments for both the artists and the advertiser who wrongly used images.

This is a huge subject and a little daunting but now I’ve started I’m really exited to see if I’m capable of at least understanding the maze of intellectual property.

Informative Links

Below are some of the sites I use when researching they are full of information and can help when you’re stuck for ideas;

The Design Museum in London also has  an online archive of modern and contemporary design which  I’ve used over the last 3 years for researching designers, it’s full of so much information including podcasts of talks from a variety of designers, from Architects to Communication Designers.

One talk which is worth listening to is Sophie Thomas founder of  Thomas Matthews Communication who are designers who want to change the way we think about things.  A lot of what Sophie says echos what we’ve heard in our Design Studies lectures.  One of the things she talks about is the client brief, how its not just about designing a product but researching where the product materials will come from, where the product will end up once  its finished with and then suggesting to the client different sustainable ideas. The companies sustainability booklet is worth looking at;  thomas matthews sustainability booklet.

The Design Museum also lists all of its previous exhibitions and from 2006 each exhibition has a text with bibliography, photographs and further suggested reading and websites. There are videos to watch and conversations to listen too.


Icon is a magazine dedicated to design and architecture.  iconeye is the online version of the magazine and has links to information about many designers.  There’s a gallery showing different designers work and sketchbooks and then further links to their web pages, the architect pages are also an inspiration.


yshlondon is an online magazine aimed at  student, designer or business interested in textiles, fashion and or interiors and offers news, trends and amazing interviews. They feature a designer of the month, look at street fashion, look at what’s hidden away in London shops ( great if you’re heading down to London and don’t know where to start).  They visit trade shows and have images of whats on offer there, inform about exhibitions and visit graduate shows. Its now free to register with yshlondon  too so a great way to keep up to date with current news and information in your chosen topic.


Nuno is a Japanese company founded by Reiko Sudo – worth a visit to see fabric with a big difference. Chemical lace embroidery, origami pleats, woven fabric with glow in the dark thread, they bring something different to everyday fabrics and then have a look at nunoworks where you can see the screen printed and stitched fabrics and pick up great ideas for mixed media.


The Design Council has a great deal of history behind them and have been helping designers since 1944 then known as the Council of Industrial Design.  It offers publications, podcasts, design archives with links to other articles and access to other design blogs which in turn have numerous links again.


The online Tate is one site I cant miss out, go to the tate channel where you can watch videos of exhibitions and artists talking about their work.


The Guardian offers reports on so many subjects e.g. when searching for anthropology it gave me links to their reports all listed by date reported. On the same page are other links relating to your chosen subject some are useful but all will relate in some way to your subject, you  have to be mindful that you don’t get too carried away reading everything!


The Science Society picture library is a great resource when looking for historical images information relating to Britain, it has images from the Science Museum, the National Railway Museum and the National Museum of Photography, Film & Television.


When doing my summer project I came across the following site. Again choosing anthropology as my subject the anthropologie web site offers a wealth of information, I chose Pacific /Australia as a link and came to a list of online resources, then clicking Aboriginal Studies was taken to a another site, again I chose Aboriginal History this took me to list of University web sites, voluntary organisations, Australian Government Archives, Library sites etc. At the anthropologie site you can chose any to look at news, University Courses, Research Institutions, Anthropology by regions, documentations, web directories and museums.


The Texas A & M University Department of Anthropology has a great resource offering a link to all the latest world news on anthropology from the mainstream media.My final link for now is also one I’ve used before and I found this through Joprints its called talk2myShirt, its main purpose is to inform on the latest development in wearable electronics, it looks at new design concepts, developments in technology and research in the subject.



Enjoy the links and hope they help you too

Assignment 3

In assignment 2 I talked about  social networking, through blogs, facebook and twitter as a way in which artists connect with consumers. Because images  are  necessary to allow crafted items and designs to be shown the question should be asked how these artworks are protected from intellectual theft. So where do I start to research this subject, initially my searches have bought up books on law, this scares me a little, however I have reserved them for further perusal.  I also have numerous journals and articles to read through I have listened to my very first spoken journal and have used cross search till I’m totally cross eyed 🙂 time for a break. They’ll be much more to follow on this subject very soon.

Assignment two – connections

After looking at James Donald and his company Concrete Wardrobe as an example of how connectors work it lead me  to look further at how artists connect.

Once I started to think about the different ways of connecting the ideas came quickly ; to reach the public – advertising and articles were an immediate thought and magazines such as Selvedge offer a variety of ways for the business/artist to show what they do although this way is very expensive – Selvedge is very image led and this is an excellent way of showing artists work.

Art Galleries; another way of promoting their work – galleries not only show but also sell work (usually on commission)  – galleries often have extensive guests lists and know their clients likes and needs.  At exhibition time invitations are sent out to clients to attend a preview.

Associations are a huge support for artists and offer a variety of ways to connect artists to the public.  Scotland has its very own in craftscotland it offers so much information on their web site; about craft in Scotland, it features crafters, lists of classes and workshops and has a directory of crafters which can be searched easily for whatever the client is looking for.  In 2009 I was one of 5 students from Dundee College picked to attend the launch of The C Word campaign in London this included an advert for cinema and mainstream TV promoting Scottish craft

“The C Word campaign is all about promoting Scottish craft, and injecting energy into the sector. It’s about showing just how stunning, unique, artistic, and skillful contemporary craft can be.”  craftscotland

To keep the campaign going and connecting artists they offer a variety of buttons available for placing on web sites and blogs – they can also be followed on twitter and Facebook.

The internet offers an incredible opportunity to promote the work of artists and now social networking is another tool where connecting and sharing is just as important as personal contact.  In fact clients can be reached all over the world with just a click of a button

Facebook provides pages you can ‘like’ – here artists can place links to shops and information about the business, photographs and invitations to events, this information can be shared with friends. Twitter is another online resourse for  instant quick messages these too can be shared in the form of a re-tweet.

Unfortunately there are drawbacks, security risks with copyright issues and lack of human contact are just two but the internet can be a powerful tool when used correctly.