Here is an interview I did with Joyce Odidison on how to think about intellectual property rights in the remote work place. In recent weeks, the world has seen millions of people shift to online work spaces, where the most valuable commodity is intellectual assets. One of the questions that came up in my conversation with Joyce is how to think about intellectual property rights in these times and what we can do to ensure two things:
1. that our work is protected as intellectual property; and
2. that we do not infringe someone else's intellectual property.
The easiest way to think about the first question is to make sure that your work reflects your personality, style, and authentic expression as much as possible. The more personal characteristic you can put into your work, the better your work will fare as intellectual property. Bare skeletal work is usually not protected as intellectual property (more explanation below).
The easy way to think about question 2 is also to see if you are using someone's expression (in the unique and personal way they describe, explain, or express an idea). Taking personal expression is a big no-no and is frowned upon by intellectual property laws but taking bare skeletal work is okay.
The reason for this is because intellectual property, in particular copyright law, protects expressions and not ideas. So, it is never okay to take someone's expression but it's definitely okay to take an idea. Conversely, your personal expression is protected but never your idea.
Use this distinction to help you determine when using someone else's work is okay. I hope you enjoy the conversation as much as I did! Joyce is awesome!