Andy Warhol courtesy of freakingnews.comHow will the creative industries adapt and respond to procurement andremuneration changes?And crucially how will they protect their creativity and the value of their knowledge based solutions?The answer may lie in trust based engagement modelsIn an ideal world such vulnerability issues would not exist if trust were an automatic assuranceduring business negotiations. However, it is not.That does not mean to imply that most people are purposefully disingenuous in their businessdealings.It means that without clear guidelines in place misunderstandings between the negotiating partiescan result in one party feeling exploited if the unspoken terms they believed they were operating bydiffer from those of the other party.It would suggest that a simple to apply, trust based procurement system with non-complex termsand conditions; low cost and minimal paperwork could be a mutually beneficial solution? Peopleneed to know where they stand from the outset of the engagement process.To support this theory a group of UK based branding and interface designers are the brains behindthe launch of Creative Barcode. They have designed a simple yet clever solution to this complex
problem. Will it work? It will if creative people want more secure terms of engagement and itachieves critical mass.Barcode it and share it.Creative Barcode is driven by a user-friendly App that belies the technology behind it. It is used toproduce a unique barcode encoded with Creators details and pasted into the header or footer of allwritten and visual files associated with the project proposal.Files can then be shared freely with third parties including existing and prospective clients, thirdparty suppliers and co-creation partners. The data owner panel and link to terms and conditions areclearly visible. It complements a non-disclosure agreement as it shows ‘what’ has been exposed,when and by whom.Traditionally barcodes have been used by retailers for around 50 years. They denote that any itemcarrying a barcode belongs to another party (the store) until it has been purchased.Today, businesses are using digital barcodes on advertisements and marketing materials that whenscanned provide the user with product information and purchase details. Advertisements now regularly carry barcodesCreative Barcode performs in much the same way as each barcode is unique and contains thecreators’ ownership and contact details. However it goes further than that as it is supported by non-complex permission based terms and conditions of use. The terms are simple. The party receivingauthorised, barcoded files may not utilise any of the work without the express permission of thecreator. This applies to concepts articulated in written and visual formats.
These terms are agreed prior to work being exposed to the brand owner, potential partner or openinnovation competition managers. The permission based usage rules are simple to understand &adhere to.The Creative Barcode system throws the opportunity wide open for trust based engagementbetween creative industries and brand owners. If critical mass is achieved it stands a chance ofbecoming the normal terms of trading.Once a concept has been purchased or project completed and paid for the system generates atransfer of ownership certificate. This protects the purchaser should any future claim be maderegards the source of the work.It is also provides tangible value to the work purchased irrespective of whether the certificate isprovided following completion of a traditional fees for services project or the sale of a conceptsubmitted to an open innovation competition.The growth yet fragmentation of creative industriesDesigners and creators worldwide remain one of the fastest growing sectors of industry.However the creative industries are dominated by two opposite extremes. The very large creativecompanies who have the structure and means in place to protect their intellectual property rightsthrough traditional means, and the ever smaller micro businesses and rapidly growing freelancemarket, who do not.In the UK alone there are over 30,000 creative firms and more than 300,000 freelance operativesincluding designers of all type, writers, content creators, web developers, engineers, photographers,musicians and so on.The two common things freelancers share, is their creativity and their vulnerability in a David andGoliath business environmentIf you estimate the number of freelance creative people across the world their combined numberwould total a few million. Consequently their combined ability to demand trust based rules ofengagement and permission based use is very powerful indeed.So why has that power not been galvanised and utilised to date?Possibly because concept protection is viewed as a complex issue and no one party or sector hascommercial benefit to gain from providing a solution – other than the creative industry itself.
For Creative Barcode users, this service will provide an efficient option in light of an ever growingnumber of approaches to WIPO from distraught creative people who allege their work, submitted inresponse to a genuine business enquiry has been misappropriated.The creators feel certain that there is a law that has been broken that can be used to bring thealleged offending party to account.Often this is not the case. Creative firms can be surprised to find themselves in a very weak copyrightposition and an even weaker financial position when the larger and richer party simply deniesutilising the work for commercial advantage.Even if the party admits they were ‘influenced’ by a proposal submitted, if it is not wholly a replica ofthe work, then proving copyright breach can be difficult, time consuming and expensive. Changingthe title of a work and the look and feel of visuals weakens a copyright infringement claim even ifthe core strategic ideas the visual works represent are utilised.Often it is the core ideas that contain the value and yet it is the core idea that is not protected undercopyright law. This is the most contentious issue creative professional’s face and the one they mostcommonly misinterpret.Why aren’t ideas easy to protect under copyright law?For several reasons – the first is the confusion that has steadily grown between ‘inventive’ ideaswhich can be protected via patent applications and those solution based ideas common withinprofessional 2D and digital industries.There is the common truth that multiple parties might generate the same or a very similar idea –even though it is of course the manner by which an idea is articulated and commercialised thatdetermines the valueIf one party could exclusively protect a ‘business’ idea issues would arise with anti-competitivenessand creation of monopoly. For example, one Bank, one car share club, one travel agent.There are firmly held beliefs that idea ownership would restrict innovation and even world progressSo where does that leave creative industries professionals?Potentially creative industries could fight to differentiate between ‘ideas’ and solution-led creativityto prove their work is as valuable or more so than any other creative interpretation such asphotography, illustration, novels, music and fine art. They could legally argue that they should holdthe same automatic and moral rightsHowever, changing IP law is complex and could take a decade or more to achieve.A faster and more realistic approach might be for creative industries to unite under a system thatdenoted fair and non-complex terms of engagement based on agreed principles of trust andpermission based use.In other words, create an ethical trading standard that becomes the norm by critical mass.
If every creative person barcoded their work the creation dates, creative-solution and visualinterpretation is identified and tracked to its Creator. When; why and how it was exposed to anotherparty is also tracked. And, should it transpire that another party had indeed presented the very sameor near identical solution but offered a more acceptable deal to the third party, that source wouldalso be self-evident and provable.Such a system as offered by Creative Barcode could begin to erode the disputes and eradicatedisingenuous misappropriation of works in commercially competitive environments.If vulnerability is reduced, far more opportunity will open up for the buying and selling of solutiondriven Creativity.Creative barcode cannot guarantee that every individual in receipt of barcoded work will notmisappropriate it.However it removes any doubt that a perpetrator was fully aware of their actions. This would affecttheir trustworthiness and thereby professional status, which is not a good career move.Further, should such breach occur, any dispute pursued would not rely on potentially weak copyrightbut that of breach of trust agreement. The simple agreement is that written and creative proposalssubmitted under the prospect of genuine new business opportunity, may not be commercializedwithout permission of the Creator. Recourse becomes straightforward, pay for the use of workretrospectively or it is withdrawn from the market.It is said that 90% of people live by rules because 10% of people do not live by values.In the creative industries all that is requested is honest and fair trading – do not use a Creators workfor you or your firm’s commercial advantage without their permission and a rightful share of thebenefits.Is that too much to ask?
Creative Barcode was launched in the UK in September 2010. It is a not for profit organisationdeveloped and funded by designers and innovators for the benefit of their peers worldwide. Protectyour work with Creative Barcode™. No complex paperwork - just barcode it and share it. The annualcost to join Creative Barcode is just £30/$47.60 and includes 5 barcodes, documentation, and use ofan optional file transfer system. Later in the year, Creative Barcode members will also benefit from aCommunity of members directory to identify and access creative partners and peers across theworld. www.creativebarcode.com email email@example.comCreative Barcode team L to RNathanael Marsh, Maxine Horn, Richard Wolfstrome, Emily Miller, David Farrington