Moral Rights: How to build a culture of fair crediting online

I recently wrote a comment piece in Indesign magazine around the issue of Moral Rights. It was a discussion that considered just what our moral rights are, and where the onus lies when those rights are impinged upon.

Did you know that, as the architect of a work, you have right of attribution (or credit) when your work is ‘published’ or ‘communicated’ to the public? This is what the Australian Copyright Council’s Moral Rights Information Guide states. And for those of us practicing in Australia, moral rights arise automatically once we have created a work.

Since we’re discussing this in a digital forum, let’s consider the issue from an online perspective. The digital information revolution has bred a culture of ‘sharing’ which can gain your designs great exposure – when properly credited.

Quite often, though, it’s the wonderful photo of your project that goes viral – through #regrams, likes, shares, pins and the like. The growth and user-empowerment associated with the internet, mobile technology and content ‘sharability’ makes it very hard to protect information as it moves through the share cycle. But if there’s one thing you can do, it’s safeguard your brand and design credentials at the source.

I’ve found that the most ‘socially’ covered and credited design studios are the ones who have cultivated a strong online brand environment through carefully curated image and written content. People want to connect with them, live their style or philosophy through virtual engagement, and gain their attention, too, through strategic tagging with #hashtags and @handles.

Integral to this is storytelling – and while it’s starting to sound like a well-worn comms buzz, it remains a powerful tool for engaging with audiences as well as clients. Sharing the story behind an idea, concept or finished project deepens a person’s personal investment and involvement in your design process, it dispels the myths around what you do, and accentuates the thinking and skill inherent in your work.

Maintaining creative direction over that storytelling – particularly when it comes to photography and language – helps to cultivate a distinct and recognisable look and feel around your brand.

While content on social media streams tends to be directed by individuals and brands, news websites and blogs can better guarantee credible – and properly credited – exposure on a mass scale. Important here is your personal management of those brand leveraging opportunities: manage those relationships well and you’ll find your work properly and consistently credited in the places where it most matters.

I think the ‘moral’ of the story here is this: if you can’t beat the digital revolution then look for new ways to master it. And never underestimate the value of a unique hashtag when you’re sharing your work on social media. Like a trail of well-placed breadcrumbs, hashtags lead the conversation back to your brand, no matter how far it strays from home.

Alice is Melbourne Editor for Indesign Media Asia Pacific, and a communications and content strategy consultant.

Categories: Learning

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