Studio & Entrepreneurship – Week 3: Legal & IP Frameworks

Week 3 Lecture & Resources

Thoughts on Resources & Lecture

Notes on the podcast lecture for Week 3.
Facebook post by Studio Debie in French, commenting on the similarities between the Théâtre de Liège logo and the one created for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic games.

Research

Advancing Eve Case Study

In my current role as a Creative Designer, I was asked to develop a brand identity for a network aimed at women and girls, conceived as a way to facilitate females supporting each other, rather than competing against each other (as can sometimes happen). Ultimately, the client chose to go with a design I created to be clean and minimalist, and which used the initials A and E shown as a glyph (a diphthong-style ligature), placed above the full name, Advancing Eve, as shown below.

Original brand identity I developed for Advancing Eve.

A few months down the line, after we had rolled out the branding across multiple touchpoints, hosted a launch night, and had begun to develop the website, and the client decided to register the design. We subsequently received a legal letter out of the blue from a UK law firm acting on behalf of the US clothing company American Eagle, which stated they (seemingly) have a monopoly on the exclusive use of the letters “A” and “E” together, in any style they chose and in any application, worldwide. (This came as quite a surprise!)

In the end, the general consensus was that it could wind up being an expensive battle to try and win… so I ended up re-branding a brand that had barely launched! It was an unfortunate set of circumstances, but as a result the new logo was carefully redesigned to avoid using the brand’s initials.

Redesigned logo for Advancing Eve.

Use of Fonts in Design

When designing with fonts, it’s important to be aware of what type of licence you have in place for that particular font (and the terms of that licence, which determines its use and number of users allocated). If you have an Adobe Creative Cloud subscription, for instance, this has a whole library of fonts built in which are already licensed for both personal and commercial use.

Image via Adobe Fonts.

I also found some useful information on the legalities of using fonts and typefaces on this legal tip sheet from Georgia Lawyers for the Arts – though written with a US-based slant, many of the principles still apply in the UK.


Workshop Challenge

Select a designed object and highlight the key areas that may infringe copyright or require IP protection.

The designed object I’ve chosen is a paperback copy of Design as Art, a book written by Milanese designer Bruno Munari. The book was originally published in 1966 in Italian by Editori Laterza.

The written book is a literary work, therefore the author automatically has copyright on this, simply by merit of its creation. As Munari passed away in 1998, the period of copyright would normally last 70 years after this date for a written work, so until the year 2068. After this date, it would be “out of copyright,” or in the public domain, which would mean it can generally be reproduced freely.

The inside page of the book states “the moral right of the author has been asserted” – this means the author has claimed the right to be recognised as the author, and can legitimately object to the derogatory treatment of the work, or to any false attribution.

The original text has also been translated into English by Patrick Creagh – this translation has also been copyrighted (in 1971).

The physical book was designed by Germano Facetti and this too would generally be protected by copyright. On the edition published by Penguin Modern Classics in 2008, it states that the cover design is by YES and the cover icons were designed by Bruno Munari. The layout of a published edition of a written work normally lasts 25 years from the date of its initial publication, so this would protect it until 2033.

The paperback copy of Design as Art also states that it should not be lent, resold, hired or circulated in any alternative form of binding or cover, other than the one it was published in (and this is a condition of sale), without gaining consent from the publisher first – I imagine this would be a violation of copyright if that were to happen.

I also looked into the the legalities of someone publicly sharing a reading of a book. According to the Scottish Book Trust:

The sharing of [published] material to the public online is an act protected by copyright. This means it is not legal to share published material online without the permission of the rights holder, often the publisher. Unfortunately, an author cannot grant you permission to share their published work if they don’t hold the rights to do so.

“You must seek permission from the rights holder before you share any published material (including filmed readings, podcast recordings and pages copied from a book) with the public. If you aren’t sure who holds the rights, contact the publisher to check.

Final Outcome

Click the image above to view as a PDF.

Reflection on the week

The subject of copyright and intellectual property is something I had a general awareness of – I studied some aspects of the UK laws around this when I did my HND in Interactive Media – but I definitely think it’s something all designers need to know about. I feel I have a better understanding of how my creative work can be (or already is) protected and we have a responsibility to pass this knowledge and information on to clients too.

Ethically and in terms of best practice, I want to be sure that I haven’t infringed the copyright of another designer and also to be sure I always have the correct agreements in place for things like software and font licensing. It’s also important to be very clear on who owns the rights to a piece of work and if this will be assigned to someone else (such as a client) on completion. Generally I think I will be continuing to educate myself on this subject and aiming to put proper contracts in place or carefully reading any terms & conditions going forward.


References

Advancing Eve. 2021. Available at https://www.advancingeve.com/ [Accessed 14/06/2021]

Georgia Lawyers for the Arts. 2014. ‘Font and Typeface Legal Tip Sheet.’ Available at https://glarts.org/font-and-typeface-legal-tip-sheet/ [accessed 19/06/2021]

Gov.uk. ‘How long copyright lasts.’ Available at https://www.gov.uk/copyright/how-long-copyright-lasts [accessed 19/06/2021]

Gov.uk. 2015. ‘The rights granted by copyright.’ Available at
https://www.gov.uk/guidance/the-rights-granted-by-copyright [accessed 19/06/2021]

JACOB, Robin, ALEXANDER, Daniel and FISHER, Matthew. 2003. A Guidebook to Intellectual property: patents, trade-marks, copyright and designs. London: Sweet and Maxwell.

MUNARI, Bruno. 2008. Design as Art. London: Penguin Modern Classics.

Scottish Book Trust. 2021. ‘Legal guidance for sharing books and stories online.’ Available at https://www.scottishbooktrust.com/writing-and-authors/legal-guidance-for-sharing-books-and-stories-online [accessed 19/06/2021]

WIESEN, G. ‘What does “out of Copyright” Mean?’ MyLawQuestions. Available at https://www.mylawquestions.com/what-does-out-of-copyright-mean.htm [accessed 19/06/2021]

Wikipedia. 2021. ‘American Eagle Outfitters.’ Available at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_Eagle_Outfitters [accessed 14/06/2021]