Most tech people, designers and generally creatives are very hardworking and have great dreams of becoming the next big thing. They are usually all about delivering on their job and being given the opportunity to bring their ideas to life. Rarely do they give thought to things like how to charge their professional fees, how to make sure they get paid or how to create a structure around their business or soft work as sang by Falz the bahd guy.
The recent experience of Louis Ajlo which she shared on Twitter has hopefully reminded people in the creative space of the importance of handling every transaction professionally. She accused Ramsey Nouah and the Living in Bondage- breaking free crew of using her designs in the movie without compensating her. According to her claim, she was approached by the media director of the movie to create the designs. The designs were created but despite several sleepless nights, crap treatment and back and forth, she was told the designs were rejected only for her to watch the movie and see her designs being used.
Several twitter users called out Ramsey Nouah for this. Ramsey however explained that he and the film’s producers did not know she was not compensated and it was a miscommunication. Louis later took to Twitter to state that they had reached out to her and everything was settled.
While this all has its fair share of drama, there are several lessons creatives and techie need to learn about how to protect their work or intellectual property from being stolen or used without their approval. Here are a few below –
- Use a logo– While creating any design or bringing your idea to life, ensure you embed your logo on it. This is usually your first line of defence. A logo serves as your brand or identity. When you put your logo on any material, it shows that it belongs to you and discourages anyone who wants to plagiarise that content. Even where it is used without approval, it shows the whole world that the work in question indisputably belongs to you.
- Never release the original files – There is usually a lot of back and forth between companies and the creatives or techies before a design is settled on. During this process, make sure you do not release the original files until you have been paid in full for your work. This will make it hard for the client to run off and recreate your work without your permission.
- Get legal representation – This is extremely important. Perhaps more important than signing the contract itself. The streets of Twitter has been replete with stories of creatives getting blindsided by bad deals simply because they didn’t read their contract or didn’t have a good lawyer to explain the nitty gritty details of the fine print. A case in point is the Cynthia Morgan story. To avoid stories that touch in future, get a good corporate lawyer or solicitor to review or draft the agreement on your behalf
- Sign an agreement – Once your lawyer has reviewed or drafted the agreement, make sure its signed before you pour out your all in to the work. This will give you something to fall back on in case the deal goes sour.
Take these little steps and you are on your way to knowing you have some protection for all your sweat and hard work. However, if all else fails, perhaps you can be like Louis Ajlo and resort to the streets of Twitter to get justice.