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This article is written by Swapna Gokhale, pursuing a Diploma in Intellectual Property, Media and Entertainment Laws from LawSikho.

If you can’t do great things then do small things in a great way.” – Mr. Napoleon Hill 

 

Introduction

Everyone in this world possesses some kind of creativity. Not only drawing, painting, singing, or dancing but you may know how to decorate the room with unique ideas, or you may know how to make best things from waste, or you may know any innovative idea to teach drawing skills, or you have skill to explain any art, or you have a talent to develop any useful app which requires in day-to-day life. e.g. Ola, Uber app or M-Indicator app or you are an expert in software development or you may have knack to write story or drama in innovative style or you can draw an unique design of Mehendi or Rangoli or jewellery and you have a skill to explain the same and so on. 

Drawing, painting, sculpture, sewing, designing, music, writing these are some common and traditional types of creativity. But in today’s digital world the meaning of the word Art has diverse range. Nowadays each and every expression of an idea called as an art. And there are a variety of opportunities available to us to monetize your talent.  Imagine if you have any of the skills like mentioned above. Can you earn money out of this? Can this be your successful profession? How to monetize your talent? Who is authorized to monetize your art? What are the methods? What exactly can be monetized? 

Let’s find it here!  

Intellectual Property

As we know everything created using human endeavor and intellect is called as Intellectual property. Patent, Trademark, Copyright, Trade Secret and GI these are some basic types of Intellectual property. Each one of these encompasses a variety of creative activities. Any creative activity converted into a product becomes innovations and can be protected by taking Patent when becoming inventions. Similarly, any innovative expression of idea can be protected under Copyright Act and a brand name can be protected by applying Trademark. There are well-established statutory, administrative, and judicial frameworks for protection of IPRs in India. In fast developing countries like India, with the rapid growth in technology, there is a tremendous increase in the creation and formation of a variety of IPs in various industries. The trend of using Intellectual Property commercially and creating additional income has been identified and turned out to be popular. Nowadays the business valuation is majorly depending upon the monetization of IP created by the company which additionally upsurges the brand value of the company and the innovation turns out to be the asset for the company. 

Thus, in a view of IP law, any expression of idea falls under Copyright and can be protected under Copyright Act. But there is a wide gap between hobbyists and professionals. Depending upon the cause of the creation, the viewpoint towards the same thing changes. When you are doing any painting or writing a book for your own pleasure then it’s your own choice where to put it or which method to use for creation etc. However, when you want to do it to earn economic benefit then things start changing in various ways.    

What is copyright 

Copyright means the exclusive and assignable legal right, given to the originator for a fixed number of years, to print, publish, perform, film, or record literary, artistic, or musical material

Intellectual Property was first recognized in the form of Copyright. It is a fundamental area of Intellectual property law. Copyrights are considered territorial rights, which means that they do not extend beyond the territory of a specific jurisdiction. However, the geographical scope of copyright has been extended due to international copyright agreements, such as the 1886 Berne Convention for the protection of literary and artistic works. The Berne Convention introduced the concept that a copyright exists the moment the work is “fixed”. It doesn’t require any registration. Accordingly, the Copyrights for creative works are automatically in force at creation.

To know more about copyright please visit

Features of copyrights 

The Copyright Act 1957 supported by the Copyright Rules 1958 is the governing law for copyright protection in India. The most interesting feature of Copyright Law is it protects expression of ideas and not ideas or mathematical concepts. Therefore, many people can develop the same basic idea by their own unique style and each one can be entitled to claim copyright on it. One more characteristic of copyright is the moment copyrightable work is created the protection commences. The registration of copyrightable work before the registrar is optional.

As we know the copyright protection is applicable to those works which can be expressed in the fixed form.  e.g. literary work like Novel, Musical work which includes Song, instrumental music etc. or any creative ideas like drawing, painting etc., Cinematographic Work, Computer programs. In all these cases where there is expression of the ideas presented in the permanent form e.g. writing on paper or creation of song notations, are the form of expressions. And Copyright protects this “Form” and not the very idea itself. Thus, this style of expression being unique in nature and expressed by using anyone’s own thought can be monetized by the owner. These works do not have to be published, recorded, or performed in order to be subject to copyright protection.

Owner and ownership

In general sense, the person who creates/makes anything has the authority being an owner to use it for any purpose and no one can claim right over it. But in case of Intellectual Property this rule differs. In Intellectual Property the person who creates something using his intellectual labour/skills is the author. But the ownership of the said creativity can lie with someone else. e.g. IP created by the employee during his employment OR IP created in commissioned service. In these cases, the employer or the contractor who has paid commission to the creator for creation, will be the IP Owner. Thus, it is the owner who is authorized to use any copyrightable material for exploitation commercially. 

Rights under copyright

The owner of the copyrightable work entitled to have all the bundle of rights as specified under S. 14 of the Copyright Act 1957 like:

(i) to reproduce the work in any material form including the storing of it in any medium by electronic means;

(ii) to issue copies of the work to the public not being copies already in circulation;

(iii) to perform the work in public, or communicate it to the public;

(iv) to make any cinematograph film or sound recording in respect of the work;

(v) to make any translation of the work;

(vi) to make any adaptation of the work;

(vii) to do, in relation to a translation or an adaptation of the work, any of the acts specified in relation to the work in sub-clauses (i) to (vi).

Blog, articles, e-book, videos, music, graphics etc. these are copyrightable materials. These are simply a medium or container through which you can share your ideas to people. Each one can be monetized, shared, sold, transferred in different ways. 

Copyright Law in India gives both Economic and Moral rights to the author. 

Economic rights are those rights which help the author to commercially exploit his creation while morals rights are those rights which relate to protection of personality of the author and integrity of this work, and similar matters.

The most basic right protected under copyright law is it prevents others from making a copy of the original work. Apart from that it gives exclusive authority to the owner to make any adaptation, reproduction or modification in the copy, as well as the authority to rent, lend, to transfer, license or assign the copy to another person, right to publicly display the work, for economic gain. 

Methods of monetization 

Unused IP is only called as IP Assets unless converted to Monetizable assets to convert revenue streams. IP monetization is process of selling, transferring or liquidating intangible assets by appropriate contractual arrangement to another person to generate revenue. Monetize of IP simply refers to the process of turning a non-tangible and non-revenue-generating item into money. e.g. exhibition of your work. Exhibition can be of many types. Either you may give another person, a license to use your music in lieu of royalty OR by uploading it online you can gain ad revenues. Here your music itself was not generating any money before you displaying it to the world or authorize someone to use it commercially in lieu of a certain amount of revenue. More recently, for the Internet-based business, the ways and means to generate income have been changed and expanded e.g. by making spaces available to advertisers on the personal website where valuable content is published.  

The owner of any creative work like literary or artistic can be typically monetized by three ways –

  1. Self-Exploitation – The owner himself uses the work for his own livelihood. e.g. A painter who organizes an exhibition of his own paintings and earns money Or a writer who wrote an ebook and put it on his own website to sell.
  2. Licensing/Assigning – Not every person will have resources or means to earn the money from the copyright on the work. Therefore, in such case the person needs to enter into contractual understanding with another person to transfer the rights in the work for commercial purpose in lieu of agreed consideration to the owner. This arrangement is called Licensing. e.g. any writer writes a book and approaches a publisher to publish it in lieu of agreed consideration OR a film maker makes a Film to exploit commercially in Hindi language himself in Maharashtra and can lend another person the right to make dubbed version of film to publish it in South India. In these cases, the owner of all the copyrightable work makes money by accepting consideration from third parties who exploit the work in the market and give some portion of the selling price to you.
  3. Acquisition – The third way is to acquire and own some rights in copyrightable work from the original owner/creator and monetize it by paying the agreed fee to the creator. e.g. The theater owners get rights to exhibit the film from film producers and pay the percentage of earnings to the producer who can-not himself exhibit the film to earn.  Or online product selling companies acquire rights to use the unique artwork from an artist to print on their product so that the value of their product gets increased in exchange for agreed consideration to the artist.  

What kind of content can you monetize

One copyrightable work contains several other copyrightable materials. e.g. A film producer owns all the rights in the film including its music. However musical work includes underlying work like sound recording and lyrics. And rights of these underlying works possess by composer and lyricist respectively. Thus, the film producer needs to acquire the rights from these two people by way of license or assignment to exploit the same in his film.  

  • Ownership material – The very basic principle is that you must own all the rights to commercially use the content that you are going to monetize. Now how to own those rights? Either you have created the content by yourself OR you have taken license from originator of the content/contents involved in. Therefore, possessing the appropriate rights in the content before monetization is a must. In case of tangible property like land or flat etc. the person can-not become an owner of the property created by another person. But in case of non-tangible assets like IP you can become owner of the property created by someone else by payment of agreed consideration.  

Most importantly even if you have owned the rights from the content owner you have to ensure that you have acquired the necessary commercial rights to publish the same for gaining profits. 

Let’s take an example. If a cartoonist makes a Comedy Cartoon series similar to the famous Mr. Bean series with the same content and want to use it commercially to gain. Then in such a case even if the creation of the cartoon characters is separate copyrightable material, the cartoonist needs to acquire all the relevant rights like adaptation, reproduction etc. from the original producer of the Mr. Bean Series, since the said work is same/similar to someone else’s copyrightable work.  

  • Public domain – There is one more type of content which you can exploit commercially. The content in which the copyright is already expired and the same is now a public domain, then you can use it fairly for commercial purposes provided you should ensure the scope and limitation for commercialization. e.g. if you want to create an audiobook or sing a song for which the copyright is already expired and the same is now available on public domain then it is perfectly fine if you upload your video of that song on the online platform like YouTube to gain an income. However, while doing so you have to ensure that there are no any rights in the underlying works like lyrics of the song, has continued with the author.

Hence in order to monetize freely you have to ensure the following points:

  1. You own the rights in it being an owner; or
  2. You own the rights in it being a licensee having all the rights to exploit it commercially; or
  3. The content is already on public domain means the copyright in the work has already expired.    

Valuation of your works

SKY’S THE LIMIT!!!

Before monetization of your work, the first thing is to decide the value of your work. In today’s vibrant digital age, opportunities to earn money from the creativity to achieve creative and financial success have also expanded. Only the thing is you have that sight to identify and grab each and every occasion to convert your work into cash. But before all this you will have to set out your skills which are most comfortable for you. In order to start the different ways to monetize your copyrightable material the very first thing is Valuation.

By itself IP has very minimal value. The final value of any goods/ product is decided based on the cost incurred to create the same which includes physical and mental labor plus expenses to bring that product to public for sale which includes transport, workers salary etc. However, in case of non-tangible work like IP the valuation can-not be decided based on above said elements for the reason that creation of IP is an invention, expressions of mind which is all about human intellect. Thus, in order to decide the value of an IP some different criteria can be applied.  The present value of future economic benefit of ownership from exploitation is the key factor in case of any copyrightable work produced. The greater is the possibility of future economic benefit from exploitation, higher is the present value of that work.

The value of a copyright that is most commonly enjoyed is the rate of the Royalty driven by the earnings of the licensee from the Copyrighted material.

How to derive valuation

Valuation can-not be the same for every work. But the same is dependent upon various factors like value of hourly compensation for creation, uniqueness of the work, market value of similar work, demand, expenses incurred. All these factors contribute towards deriving the cost of the copyrightable work. Market value of creative works is dependent upon the length of time that they are able to produce an economic benefit to their owner. 

A latest method and tools to monetize your artwork 

Direct selling the art work in the market is the easiest and most traditional way of exploitation to earn money. But in this modern world there are so many tricks and channels through which an artist could earn handsome consideration from many sources at the same time.  

Since works protected by copyright are consumed more and more online, on digital channels (VOD for video content and streaming and downloads for audio content), a new challenge has arisen to ensure that copyright owners can monetize the exploitation of their works online.

As I mentioned earlier, by Licensing and Assignment you can earn money from your creativity. However apart from that in order to diversify your revenue streams you can follow below ideas.

  • Selling print online – From the age of records, vinyl discs, audio cassettes and CDs, to the age of iTunes the royalty of an artist have been counted as a percentage of a sale price. For an artist who has the talent to draw or create wonderful pictures, online selling of his art will open the door for fans who are really interested in such art work. Many online sites selling some product may ask you to give them your art to print it on their product. This will give you an opportunity to earn and reach out to the people at large.
  • Limited Usage rights – Licensing is the most common strategy adopted by the owners of IP rights. This method not only generates immediate revenue for the IP owner, but also locks it for a certain number of years, depending on the tenure of the licensing agreement. Thus, it has become one of the most popular methods of monetizing copyrightable work.
  • Affiliate marketing is the process of earning a commission by promoting other people’s (or company’s) products. This affiliate program is good for those who wish to start earning quickly and easily. An affiliate just has to promote the products and is eligible to earn commission on every sale initiated by his marketing efforts. E.g. Amazon, Flipkart, Make My Trip etc. If you have written a blog or website on travelling and if the sales of such companies generated by the affiliates i.e. your web, then you become eligible to earn high commission. Thus, affiliation is also booming to earn in this modern age.
  • Subscription/ Membership – If you have unique experience, talent, skills, or viewpoint, people just might pay you to have regular access to that. e.g. for reading your blogs or regular access to your videos etc. This could be in the form of a subscription newsletter for premium video series. Or, it could be a membership website that offers ongoing access to a variety of content types.
  • Advertising – Youtube is the most popular broadcasting tools for exploitation of any of the copyrightable work. This is the most famous method to monetize your work. You must have seen advertisements that come while reading some blogs or watching any video on YouTube either in the beginning or in the middle of the content. This will give you ad revenue if your content is popular enough.  And to earn more profit from ads you need to create your presence more frequently before the people. 
  • Collateral security – In earlier days, banks used to ask IP owners to top up their collaterals for loans with IP assets, just to provide insurance to the loan granted by the bank or financial institutions. But the more recent phenomenon is that IP owners are able to secure significant bank loans using nothing more than the IP assets. The IP assets are being pledged as the primary source of collateral in wide range of situations.

Steps to follow

Art in India has been in existence since ancient times and now it has reached an altogether different level. Because of enormous development in technology which has made the world such a small place and hence Indian Art has moved from the drawing rooms of the royalty and the elite and found a comfortable space in the middle-class homes. Traditional trend of thinking that you need to have other career options to survive than your art alone is changing significantly. Now you can have a flourishing career in your skills. For that you need to have a strategic approach and trust in your skills.     

If you have some talent to express the things in innovative ways and are new in this field and then below are some tips for you to get monetize your intellectual asset –

  • Stop thinking like a hobbyist and try to learn and invent new ideas and keep learning about your work. There is an ocean of the knowledge available online on any subject. Just use it.
  • Find your specialty- Online classes are the best option these days. For proactive and extrovert people online classes is the great opportunity to earn by sitting at home. If you are skilled at sharing what you know then there is great demand for your knowledge. 
  • Develop your skills – Workshop/webinars are good to reach more people. You can arrange workshops either face to face or online to get in touch with the art aspirants. The opportunity to get the paid work is high during such workshops.
  • Network – Build your network. Many times you can get the work from one of the contacts you have in your network and your creative career can get momentum.
  • Working for the art industry- Working with any art industry similar to your interest areas will give you a chance to increase your creativity along with good earnings.
  • Blog/You Tuber – The prospective clients can find you and your work through a well informative blog or an interesting YouTube video. In today’s day these can be a lucrative revenue stream.
  • Book – As an artist you can create a guide advising therein the variety of tactics, usage of different mediums, giving your specialist approach. Your expertise will be valuable to other creatives and they will be happy to pay you.     
  • Profile – You can create your profile on social media like Facebook or Instagram displaying your best work. This is one of the easiest ways to promote yourself. Here don’t forget to give links to your blog or your website so that chances of your work being noticed by people increases.      

Conclusion

Everyone is not that lucky to have their dream job in the field they like most. So it’s a golden opportunity for you to explore various options to monetize your innovative art and try to make your skill as your career. To understand the entire universe of transactions available for monetizing IP rights, the financial industry along with the IP owners must strive towards disclosing the successful transactions to the public domain, so as to popularize these methods. Overall, there are multiple options available to the IP owners to monetize their IP assets and recoup the investment made towards R&D activities, of which some have already made inroads into the Indian financial system. Now it is up to the IP owners to capitalize on them and earn maximum possible revenue out of the not-so-liquid IP assets. But before doing that you have to just ensure of having ownership rights and commercial rights to avoid any further legal complications.

References


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