Saturday, May 28, 2011

An interesting question about Intellectual Property

Sound Designers have a very complex relationship with Intellectual Property (IP). On one hand, we're creators of IP. Our designs are (usually) our property, which we license to theatre companies for the runs of shows. We trust large parts of our IP (sound files we build, computer files we create, etc.) to business colleagues to use in ethical ways: in licensed productions only. We trust these companies and individuals not to steal or illegally use our work.

On the other hand, sound designers are also consumers of IP. We regularly use copyrighted music and sound effects in our designs, and when we do, we engage in a complex dance of ethical responsibility, legal responsibility, and creative accountability. How do you secure the right to use someone else's IP? Whose job is it to secure that right? What is a fair compensation for a specific piece of IP? How do I as a sound designer balance the needs of my client (a good design, on budget, on time), the needs of the owners of the IP I use (financial and/or psychological renumeration for the use of their IP), and my needs (a good level of efficiency, maintaining good personal and professional relationships, money in the bank, and work I can be proud of)?

Sound Designers have these conversations all the time. Different designers answer the question in different ways, but it's something we think about and talk about a lot.

Then, this morning, I read an interesting blog post, about a similar question from the photography world... what do you think?

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