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Shattering A Few Myths About Copyright

Shattering A Few Myths About Copyright

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    It is unfortunate that people don’t know as much as they should about intellectual property rights. One day recently I briefly checked in to Twitter to see a discussion on the matter — a discussion that was propagating misinformed ideas. You might see copyright as a topic that’s only relevant to artists and engineers, but the truth is that this isn’t called the information age for nothing and intellectual property laws affect everybody.

    Here’s a quick and dirty primer to your copyrights. It is by no means extensive or legal advice and is merely the result of some rigorous study I applied myself to a few years ago as an individual who trades in intellectual property. As with anything, the right thing to do is check the facts by reading the acts so that you’re certain of your rights.

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    Fixed Tangible Expressions

    How do you know when something you’ve created has become copyrighted? The prevailing answer that most people will provide is, upon creation. That’s right and wrong depending on how you define creation. Does creation include conception? That’s the popular view and that’s not correct.

    Something is copyrighted when it is a fixed tangible expression. That means it is out of your head and written on paper, painted on canvas, recorded in your home studio or otherwise made tangible.

    So when are your conceptions and creations not copyrighted? That brings me to…

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    You Can’t Copyright Ideas and Names

    You cannot copyright ideas. While you can copyright a fixed tangible expression of an idea, you can’t copyright the idea itself even once it has been expressed. Others are able to take that idea and express it themselves, and as long as that expression isn’t too similar to yours, it can’t be contested. Obviously we’re talking about copyright here — trade secrets and patents are different things entirely.

    You also can’t copyright a name. Copyright law covers works, trademarks cover names. Trademarks are expensive and there are pretty stringent requirements on registering them. In other words, the names of the characters in your story are not yours, unless you take the unlikely step of trademarking them.

    A story, a picture, and a letter to a friend are all fixed tangible expressions. Even a list and the order of the items on the list (but not the names themselves) can be copyrighted. But if you send an idea for an episode to the producer of your favorite show, it is theirs to create a script (which is, you guessed it, a fixed tangible expression of the general idea, though the description of the idea itself as you worded it would remain yours).

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    Poor Man’s Copyright is a Poor Man’s Myth

    There is an idea floating around that mailing something you created to yourself is an alternative to registering copyright for the item. The truth is that you have the copyrights to your work once you’ve created the work, but if there’s ever legal trouble having the work registered will be helpful. This poor man’s copyright trick is a myth and does not provide the legal backup that registration does; you may as well save the money you would spend on envelopes and postage stamps.

    Work-for-Hire

    f you intend to do business as someone who creates intellectual property, you should be careful. Some people are more than happy to sell the copyright to works they create and some will expect it from you. In some industries, this is the norm, such as with web design. In other industries — for example, if a song is commissioned from a band — a license is typically sold, whether it’s an exclusive commercial license or some form of limited license that gives the buyer certain rights to the intellectual property.

    Clever sellers of intellectual property will retain the rights. Clever purchasers of intellectual property will only buy the rights. It gets a little tense when a clever seller meets a clever purchaser!

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    Here’s the important thing to remember:

    In many jurisdictions, unless you specifically stipulate in a contract between yourself and the client or employer, all intellectual property you create for a client or for your employer is their intellectual property. In most places this is called work-for-hire.

    The Six Exclusive Copyrights

    My mentor in intellectual property forced me to memorize the six copyrights that are granted exclusively to the creator (or creators) of a work. It is wise to do so if you deal in IP yourself. You have the right to:

    • Produce copies and reproductions of the work and sell them,
    • Import or export the work,
    • Create derivative works,
    • Perform or display the work publicly,
    • Sell or assign these rights to others,
    • Transmit or display by radio or video

    Nobody else can do these things with your work. Memorize them so that you can easily tell if someone is an admirer or an offender disenfranchising you of your legal rights.

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    Joel Falconer

    Editor, content marketer, product manager and writer with 12+ years of experience in the startup, design and tech digital media industries.

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    Last Updated on October 13, 2020

    How to Get Promoted When You Feel Stuck in Your Current Position

    How to Get Promoted When You Feel Stuck in Your Current Position

    Have you been stuck in the same position for too long and don’t really know how to get promoted and advance your career?

    Feeling stuck could be caused by a variety of things:

    • Taking a job for the money
    • Staying with an employer that no longer aligns with your values
    • Realizing that you landed yourself in the wrong career
    • Not feeling valued or feeling underutilized
    • Taking a position without a full understanding of the role

    There are many other reasons why you may be feeling this way, but let’s focus instead on learning what to do now in order to get unstuck and get promoted

    One of the best ways to get promoted is by showing how you add value to your organization. Did you make money, save money, improve a process, or do some other amazing thing? How else might you demonstrate added value?

    Let’s dive right in to how to get promoted when you feel stuck in your current position.

    1. Be a Mentor

    When I supervised students, I used to warm them — tongue in cheek, of course — about getting really good at their job.

    “Be careful not to get too good at this, or you’ll never get to do anything else.”

    This was my way of pestering them to take on additional challenges or think outside the box, but there is definitely some truth in doing something so well that your manager doesn’t trust anyone else to do it.

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    This can get you stuck.

    Jo Miller of Be Leaderly shares this insight on when your boss thinks you’re too valuable in your current job:

    “Think back to a time when you really enjoyed your current role…You became known for doing your job so well that you built up some strong ‘personal brand’ equity, and people know you as the go-to-person for this particular job. That’s what we call ‘a good problem to have’: you did a really good job of building a positive perception about your suitability for the role, but you may have done ‘too’ good of a job!”[1]

    With this in mind, how do you prove to your employer that you can add value by being promoted?

    From Miller’s insight, she talks about building your personal brand and becoming known for doing a particular job well. So how can you link that work with a position or project that will earn you a promotion?

    Consider leveraging your strengths and skills.

    Let’s say that the project you do so well is hiring and training new entry-level employees. You have to post the job listing, read and review resumes, schedule interviews, make hiring decisions, and create the training schedules. These tasks require skills such as employee relations, onboarding, human resources software, performance management, teamwork, collaboration, customer service, and project management. That’s a serious amount of skills!

    Are there any team members who can perform these skills? Try delegating and training some of your staff or colleagues to learn your job. There are a number of reasons why this is a good idea:

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    1. Cross-training helps in any situation in the event that there’s an extended illness and the main performer of a certain task is out for a while.
    2. As a mentor to a supervisee or colleague, you empower them to increase their job skills.
    3. You are already beginning to demonstrate that added value to your employer by encouraging your team or peers to learn your job and creating team players.

    Now that you’ve trained others to do that work for which you have been so valued, you can see about re-requesting that promotion. Explain how you have saved the company money, encouraged employees to increase their skills, or reinvented that project of yours.

    2. Work on Your Mindset

    Another reason you may feel stuck in a position is explained through this quote:

    “If you feel stuck at a job you used to love, it’s normally you—not the job—who needs to change. The position you got hired for is probably the exact same one you have now. But if you start to dread the work routine, you’re going to focus on the negatives.”[2]

    In this situation, you should pursue a conversation with your supervisor and share your thoughts and feelings to help you learn how to get promoted. You can probably get some advice on how to rediscover the aspects of that job you enjoyed, and negotiate either some additional duties or a chance to move up.

    Don’t express frustration. Express a desire for more.

    Present your case and show your boss or supervisor that you want to be challenged, and you want to move up. You want more responsibility in order to continue moving the company forward. Focus on how you can do that with the skills you have and the positive mindset you’ve cultivated.

    3. Improve Your Soft Skills

    When was the last time you put focus and effort into upping your game with those soft skills? I’m talking about those seemingly intangible things that make you the experienced professional in your specific job skills[3].

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    Use soft skills when learning how to get promoted.

      According to research, improving soft skills can boost productivity and retention 12 percent and deliver a 250 percent return on investment based on higher productivity and retention[4]. Those are only some of the benefits for both you and your employer when you want to learn how to get promoted.

      You can hone these skills and increase your chances of promotion into a leadership role by taking courses or seminars.

      Furthermore, you don’t necessarily need to request funding from your supervisor. There are dozens of online courses being presented by entrepreneurs and authors about these very subjects. Udemy and Creative Live both feature online courses at very reasonable prices. And some come with completion certificates for your portfolio!

      Another way to improve your soft skills is by connecting with an employee at your organization who has a position similar to the one you want.

      Express your desire to move up in the organization, and ask to shadow that person or see if you can sit in on some of their meetings. Offer to take that individual out for coffee and ask what their secret is! Take copious notes, and then immerse yourself in the learning.

      The key here is not to copy your new mentor. Rather, you want to observe, learn, and then adapt according to your strengths.

      4. Develop Your Strategy

      Do you even know specifically why you want to learn how to get promoted? Do you see a future at this company? Do you have a one-year, five-year, or ten-year plan for your career path? How often do you consider your “why” and insure that it aligns with your “what”?

      Sit down and make an old-fashioned pro and con list.

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      Write down every positive aspect of your current job and then every negative one. Which list is longer? Are there any themes present?

      Look at your lists and choose the most exciting pros and the most frustrating cons. Do those two pros make the cons worth it? If you can’t answer that question with a “yes,” then getting promoted at your current organization may not be what you really want[5].

      The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why. —Mark Twain

      Here are some questions to ask yourself:

      • Why do you do what you do?
      • What thrills you about your current job role or career?
      • What does a great day look like?
      • What does success look and feel like beyond the paycheck?
      • How do you want to feel about your impact on the world when you retire?

      Define success to get promoted

        These questions would be great to reflect on in a journal or with your supervisor in your next one-on-one meeting. Or, bring it up with one of your work friends over coffee.

        Final Thoughts

        After considering all of these points and doing your best to learn how to get promoted, what you might find is that being stuck is your choice. Then, you can set yourself on the path of moving up where you are, or moving on to something different.

        Because sometimes the real promotion is finding your life’s purpose.

        More Tips on How to Get Promoted

        Featured photo credit: Razvan Chisu via unsplash.com

        Reference

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