—Aaron Keller, Principal at Capsule

Art, design and all that is valuable in this area has always been an interest of Capsule’s. We are in what some call the “graphic arts” business and while we never use that phrase, our appreciation for art is always present.

In the last couple of weeks there have been a few events converging which bring up some interesting issues. Here’s the first, the photo libraries have autobots which go out into the digital world to identify photos which are being used without permission or are beyond their term of rights. We have always warned clients about rights and issues they could face. It’s good practice to buy full rights, indefinitely just so you don’t have to worry about the term.

Then, we have become fascinated with the growth of Pinterest in the past six months and have started to wonder. How will they turn this immersive experience into a money-making venture? When Pinterest starts to make money from those who post art, will they face issues themselves if they profit from other’s intellectual property? Causes some interesting conversations around the Capsule office.

Last, as we are content creators and [in our small way] content distributors, how are we staying within our rights to publish art. When is it theft and when is it fair use? We would like others to value and therefore respect our original design work, as we do so in our world.

Now, here’s the big kicker — how is it possible to police the vast amount of copyright ownership flowing around the world. Let’s take this microcosm of an idea as an example. Here’s a painting, from junk store in New Richmond, WI. With a brief touch of my Leica, I was able to capture it as an image. Now what? Can I sell this image? Can I print it, frame it and hang it in my office? Whether it fits your personal taste or not, it is original art. Does it have enough value to be protected? Is there something to protect? When does the protection of intellectual property become an overwhelming and impossible task, no matter auto-bot or no?

The nuances of intellectual property law get more complex and the vast quantities of protectable property grows exponentially. It is my conclusion that we will need to police ourselves and be aware of when we are using someones’ property for our own profit.

Using Wikipedia as a model, is this a possible destination considering our growth in intellectual property?