IP Rights in the creative industry

Intellectual property
Is seen as both a blessing and a curse, but no matter your view on it, it is of vital importance, not only morally but also legally.

Their are many forms of property protection and many involve grey areas. In my discipline, it is of vital importance, particularly IP Rights. With many companies wanting to protect their brand in a creative industry, their are often conflicts over whether something is, or is not, a “copy” of something. I personally believe that this stifles creativity in the industry and creates a fear for many developers not wanting to step on larger companies toes with something that, while most likely not similar, could be seen as such and taken down. However, it has its good and bad sides. You cannot blame a company for wanting to protect what they own, and it’s entirely understandable to do so. You do not want someone stealing your hard work and making something out of it for their own benefit. IP Rights allow the owners to exploit their IP and entirely restricts what others can do, fortunately there are built in exceptions to copyright infringement.

Either way, it is always something to watch out for no matter what you’re creating in the industry. You must be absolutely certain that what you have could not be exploited. But you can’t only look at it from an outside perspective. You must always look at protecting what you have, the benefits of IP rights. In my discipline it is vital to protect what I’m making, you don’t want others taking it and distributing it, or doing what they want with it. Especially if it tarnishes your brand. It will allow you to protect what you have and gives you an image that people will relate to you.

Copyright is a debated topic in today’s society, with “pirating” being such a large problem in the industry. But it’s more than just stopping people from redistributing what you’ve made, it also gives you the power to control how the work is used in the future by people that wish to use it, this is obviously a good thing, as it gives you more control over what you own.

Freelancing in the creative industry.

Why freelance?
Many agree that freelancing has its benefits and drawbacks. In my discipline area, freelancing offers a lot of opportunities providing your skill set is wide enough. Many people in many industries are looking for someone with programming experience and it’s not impossible to find small projects to do. What’re the benefits of this? For one, you’re your own boss, taking which projects you want and working when you want to. You can also earn more than usual on a project, as well as more than employees in a firm, as you can accept many projects and contracts. You also develop a large skill set from working on many different things. It of course has its drawbacks, and it’s up to the person whether they’re worth it or not. For one you have no job security. You work a contract and when it’s done, it’s done. You have no paid holidays and no breaks that you don’t provide yourself and lose money on. Anytime spent not working or looking for another contract is money lost. There’s very little certainty of actually getting work as well, you could have a long period with lots of jobs, followed by a drought and a severe lack. Finally, you’re entirely responsible for everything you do, and every aspect of it, not just the project itself.

What does Freelancing require from someone? It requires dedication and patience. You’ll spend nearly as much time looking for work as you do working on it. Sometimes you’ll be flooded with so much work to do, you have no free time, and other times you’ll have absolutely nothing to do and no money coming in. It’s lonely work, especially if you’re doing it on your own. However it’s not all bad. You can develop contacts who can become regular sources of jobs by building their trust, and you can earn a lot of money if you’re committed, but it’s tough.

That brings me onto my next point, networking? Why is it so important? For a freelancer it should be obvious enough, the contacts you make are who you’ll be going to for work, and who’ll hopefully be contacting you with work. They’re your lifeline and best chance of making it. But what if you’re not a freelancer? It’s still important, from job offers to just general advice, getting yourself known in an industry is always a good idea, as well as getting to know other skilled professionals, from whom you could draw knowledge from. It is highly recommended to go to events, in my case as a programmer in the gaming industry, I’d be looking at Game Jam events and Gaming Conventions, where I can meet other developers and get a chance for them to know who I am. Carry personal business cards around that have your contact information on them, you never know who you might run into.

Professionalism, its meaning and place in the Creative Industries.

First of all,
What does professionalism mean in the creative industry? In times not long gone by, most in the industries were self-taught, gotten into the industry through their own drive to get there, but today, most are able to learn what they need in the industry in education, universities and colleges have started teaching  people what they need to know to attain a level of expertise above that of the average person. It also means structure, in an industry where people used to just get together in a garage and spend time creating a game together until it was ready, things have now moved on to multi-million dollar companies, with large teams of people in an organised hierarchy, companies know now that they are providing a vital service for the people of the world, the entertainment industry brings happiness and fun to many and therefor those inside of it are held to a high standard so that they can continue to provide this service for the betterment of society.

How do you do this? Joseph Migga Kizza said in his book, Ethics in Computing, that professionalism is characterised by four things. Commitment, integrity, responsibility and accountability. Commitment is highly important as while it is a creative industry, you still have a job to do and a service to provide. You cannot give up at the first sign of trouble and, in fact, the sign of a good professional is one who can continue on through those troubles and carry out his work, improving himself as he does. Integrity is key as well, you cannot take shortcuts, or take the easy path if it means tarnishing what you are doing. People must be able to trust you and if you lose your integrity, what else do they have to believe that what you say and do are true? Responsibility plays into this, being honest is important as in owning up to what you do, whether it is right or wrong. In the creative industry you have a responsibility to perform the best of your ability and create a product that is of the standard expected by your customers and users. Finally, accountability. No matter what happens in the end, if it was by your hand, you are accountable for the outcome. This is not a bad thing however, if you are a shining pillar of professionalism, you will be held accountable, and rewarded for being so.

Portfolio Quality

What makes a good portfolio?
It’s something many people would benefit from knowing, especially in the games industry as, chances are, your portfolio will carry the most weight when employers consider you. There are a few basic rules that I’ve learned from listening to professionals in the industry, research online and personal experience.

The biggest rule I’d say is that your portfolio is only as strong as your weakest piece. This has a few meanings in my mind. First of all, it means to me that quality is greater than quantity. If you had made a million portfolio pieces and only a few certain of them truly shone through the rest, then you’d only want to show those pieces. If an employer was looking through all your amazing pieces and came across one rather bad one, it’d leave a sour taste in his mouth and he’d certainly remember the bad one the most.

Another rule for nearly all portfolios is to constantly work at it and improve it. Your portfolio is never finished and keeping it up to date with your newest skills and abilities will show off your abilities as they are, at your current plateau.

More specifically to my area of study, I’d say that make sure to know what you’re applying too and how your portfolio will reflect on it. As a programmer, I know that their are many different languages out there, and each has it’s pros and cons. I should know what I’m applying to show that I can show off my skills with the best suited language for the task and what the employers will be looking for. For example, if I were going into a mobile development company, I’d want to show off most likely C#, some C++ and Java for android development. If I were applying to a purely PC gaming company for instance, chances are I’d want to put heavy focus on C++. Tailoring your portfolio to your employers taste is of vital importance and shouldn’t be forgotten. You’d hardly want to show off a Java database program to a games development company.

Finally, make sure that your portfolio really just shines how confident you are in your area of work. Strong portfolio pieces will shine through everything else that you could give to an employer, as it shows off your skill in its purest form.