In this profession of sharing precious visual ideas, there are instances in which a little extra protection is needed in order to avoid future headaches. This is the idea behind Creative Barcode.
Creative Barcode is a company based in the UK that offers a system to help creatives protect their work in it’s most fragile stage -when it’s still unpaid. It integrates barcodes, ftp services and intellectual property rights.
From what I could gather on their website and in other online articles, it provides a paid way to add an electronic signature to your work, and once the client has agreed to pay for it, it provides a way for your to sign the rights over to them.
By buying the rights to use their barcodes (it involves an annual fee plus a pay-per-use model), you can send your files to your clients (or prospective client) using their file sharing system, knowing that they will bear a digital signature that identifies them as your property, and that your client will have electronically agreed to the terms and conditions of your relationship. Their system also tracks when the client accesses the files, and since they have signed an electronic agreement, it can be used as evidence of when the file was viewed in case that the relationship resulted in a legal battle.
You can read more from about the idea here. And below is a picture of what the barcode looks like.
I personally didn’t understand the extent to which this system solves the complex problem of protecting and eventually defending your intellectual property.
Lets say an industrial designer who present their ideas to possible investors and routinely require confidentiality agreements embeds this bar code into a sketch. The client can just take that same sketch and show it to another industrial designer who can replicate it, or modify it so it flies under the patent infringement radar.
There will be an electronic agreement, but that puts us right back where we started, because the designer would have take the client to court (still very a difficult thing to because of the chance of being stuck with legal fees).
In the world of graphic design, it seems like it would be useless if people receive a graphic piece with a barcode somewhere in the image, because they can a). cut out the barcode and use part of the image or b). replicate the image using design software.
I started out thinking this was certainly a step in the right direction, but now I’m going into all the possibilities for foul play and I just don’t see how this adds a level of protection to any creative product. Feel free to disagree with me in your comments below!