The Loud Whisper Takeover

9: Intellectual Property Essentials for Artists: including AI and Events

June 12, 2024 Cindy Claes Episode 9
9: Intellectual Property Essentials for Artists: including AI and Events
The Loud Whisper Takeover
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The Loud Whisper Takeover
9: Intellectual Property Essentials for Artists: including AI and Events
Jun 12, 2024 Episode 9
Cindy Claes

Join us for an eye-opening discussion with Attorney Vera Zambrano, Lead Attorney at Law Firm Vera Zambrano and Associates, as she unpacks the maze of intellectual property (IP) in the creative sector. 

This episode is a treasure of insights, from the fundamental aspects of what constitutes IP, to how artists can navigate this new world increasingly dominated by AI, and how creatives can protect their well-thought-through events.

This episode shines a light on the critical role of legal agreements in safeguarding artists' rights and revenue. Mrs. Zambrano advises on the essential elements an agreement shall include, ensuring clear obligations and rights for all parties. 

Real-life examples provide practical advice on handling disputes and why timely legal action is crucial. Attorney Vera Zambrano also demystifies how to consult with attorneys, and makes navigating the legal system accompanied by attorney a very human process.  Freelance artists with big ideas and/or small passion projects... don’t miss out on this empowering conversation about your IP rights!

Law Firm Vera Zambrano & Associates - Contact details:

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Cindy Claes - Host
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Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Join us for an eye-opening discussion with Attorney Vera Zambrano, Lead Attorney at Law Firm Vera Zambrano and Associates, as she unpacks the maze of intellectual property (IP) in the creative sector. 

This episode is a treasure of insights, from the fundamental aspects of what constitutes IP, to how artists can navigate this new world increasingly dominated by AI, and how creatives can protect their well-thought-through events.

This episode shines a light on the critical role of legal agreements in safeguarding artists' rights and revenue. Mrs. Zambrano advises on the essential elements an agreement shall include, ensuring clear obligations and rights for all parties. 

Real-life examples provide practical advice on handling disputes and why timely legal action is crucial. Attorney Vera Zambrano also demystifies how to consult with attorneys, and makes navigating the legal system accompanied by attorney a very human process.  Freelance artists with big ideas and/or small passion projects... don’t miss out on this empowering conversation about your IP rights!

Law Firm Vera Zambrano & Associates - Contact details:

Want to send Cindy Claes a DM?

Support the Show.

Let's continue the conversation on Instagram:

Cindy Claes - Host
@cindy_claes

Loud Whisper VZW - Producers
@loudwhispervzw

Join the community:
Buy Me A Coffee VIP Zone

Speaker 1:

Welcome to the Loud Whisper Takeover podcast. Today we are going to talk about legal matters and IP intellectual property. While we often talk about intellectual property of shows, scripts, choreography, we rarely know about how to protect our intellectual property when we set up events as artists. Yet our expertise network, our creative thinking, allows us to not only create shows but also to set up authentic, unique events True, authentic experiences. It might be easier, but not always obvious, to see what our intellectual property covers in the making of a show, but it is very blurry when creating an event. So I'm talking about dance battles. That has very specific roles, professional development programs for artists, leadership program for artists with a very specific programming, art festivals, well-taught through dance competitions, for example, that and so much more. We often set up these artistic events and experiences in association with institutions and organizations, and they can either buy the event as a package, help us find grants, offer their space to run the events. But when we collaborate with those organizations, there is often a power dynamic that is quite unbalanced A freelance, independent artist with a big idea working with an institution that has a lot more resources, and then, in case of a disagreement, artists can find it hard to stand up for their rights.

Speaker 1:

So today, in order to gain a little bit of clarity around intellectual property and also intellectual property for events, we are honored to have a very special guest. She is the lead attorney at law firm Vera Zambrano and Associates. Hi, mrs Zambrano, welcome to the podcast. We're so excited to have you. Thank you so much for having me today. I know you're calling in from Florida, am I right? Yes, correct. Yes, so my first question is going to be about your law firm. So know you're calling in from Florida, am I right? Yes, correct, so my first question is going to be about your law firm. So can you please tell us a little bit more about your law firm, the legal advice that you offer in various sectors, and also in which countries you represent clients, because you're obviously working, and in Europe and in the United States and maybe other countries, I don't know.

Speaker 2:

Yes, so my law firm is an international law firm. I built it at the age of 28 in Berlin in Germany and I expanded two and a half years later to the US and what we do is we provide legal services, so legal consultation and representation between the US and Europe, especially between US and Germany and also member states of the European Union. We do a lot of private law, music law we have artists, musicians Also we can talk about that later. We do a lot of family law also and all other matters that are exactly between the US and Europe and where a lot of Americans or Europeans need the broader spectrum of representation, where are multiple jurisdictions in place.

Speaker 1:

And so you also specialize in copyright law and IP intellectual property. Can you perhaps first tell us a little bit about what intellectual property actually is, If artists need to understand it filmmakers, theater makers, dancers if you had to summarize what is intellectual property in front of the law, yes, so intellectual property, ip law right is the summary of all different kinds of creations of the human mind.

Speaker 2:

So when we talk about ai that is not covered right it has to be the human mind, the human brain. That can be inventions, it can be literary or artistic works, it can be designs, symbols, brand marks, names, images, patents, right, trademarks and shows in general right that are created by a human person.

Speaker 1:

I love that you talked about AI. I would love to just maybe ask an additional question about AI, because a lot of people are now using AI perhaps within their creative process, for example as a filmmaker. Now there are some softwares that exist where you can have AI creating your film before you start filming it. Or perhaps some screenwriters might ask chat GPT for some prompts, even though they sort of rework it afterwards. Does that have an impact on intellectual property afterwards?

Speaker 2:

Yes, so whatever is created by AI is not covered, right, it's not covered under a copyright law intellectual property. That applies to the US, but also for Europe, right? So AI is aimed for the law for the legal field pretty recent, pretty modern For artists not anymore, right and musicians, but still for the legal professionals it's something modern and we have to look at it case by case. But there is a copyright office right in the US that has made a decision and has said that AI cannot be covered by intellectual property. That means when you, as an artist or musician or just in general, an artist, right, an entertainer you are creating something using AI, it is only covered by your intellectual property, right, if you are putting your own mind into it. That means, if you create something that comes from within you, right, if you use a system like a robot or AI, that is not covered.

Speaker 2:

So it's a fine line between, like, look at it that way, when it's something that you created, which is, you know, comes from your imagination, right, that is covered. But if you use something that can be repeated solely through AI, that is not covered. So a lot of artists or musicians use, like, those little sequences, right, those little lines that are AI already, or like a bridge. That might be AI, but the song itself is a creation of the artist or the musician, so that is covered right, and this person has intellectual property on this song or on this art piece. So it's very important to look at. Did you just copy paste something right from AI that another person fed into AI you know uploaded, or you know fed the system before right or is it something that you came up with? Is it your, your creation?

Speaker 1:

that is so interesting to know.

Speaker 1:

I don't know if you will have the answer to my next question, because it's a bit specific, but let see.

Speaker 1:

So there is a program that filmmakers start to use with AI it's called Pika Arts and that is to create images. And then there is 11 labs, I believe, to create voices and what filmmakers would do instead of, for example, having just a script and trying to find investors to basically produce that script into a film. They might say, hey, you know, to this AI system, I see like a character, a blonde character, you know, going through the city of New York. Please have a shot of a blonde woman having coffee in New York and then she's traveling with a plane and basically they do a trailer, for example, of their film with AI. They even give voices, ai voices to those characters. So it's an AI film, but it's just to give like a visual to future investors to say, hey, this is a bit of what this film would look like, so would that be considered as well? This is AI and you actually might lose your intellectual property on, on the whole concept, or actually, no, it's still covered yet.

Speaker 2:

So those cases are not decided yet. So there has not been a court decision in the us or in europe anywhere in the world that has already. You know that it already assessed those those kind of cases. So they haven't been legally determined by any judge yet. I'm pretty sure that will come right If there's a dispute about the actress, right, or someone else that claims it's his idea, right. So I'm pretty sure that will come in the future. But since it's not been decided, it's hard to say that it's definitely covered or not. We have to look into every single spot, right.

Speaker 2:

How much AI is used? Is it solely 100% AI? That means you take it from the AI, you take it from a robot that created it, and this robot was fed by someone else, by a human brain, right Before. But it's not your creation, it is not your invention, right? It's not a movie. A film has to be your intellectual property, meaning you have to come up with the idea, right. The constellation, the actors, right. How do you put them into play, the order of the scenes right? You have to come up with this yourself for you to have an artwork created. So my first response would be if that is 100 percent AI and it's not. You haven't put any you know any intellectual work into it yourself, right? What I just mentioned, you know all these different things that you can come up with that makes it different from other short clips or other movies. Movies, then it's. I would say it's not covered, right, because it can be easily repeated by anyone right Without having to take in any new ideas or individual ideas.

Speaker 1:

So am I then right in saying because there has never been a case like that and the law is still very blurry that we should be very, very careful as artists to use it and put that kind of work out there, because, at the end of the day, if there is a disagreement, it could not go in our favor? Is that right?

Speaker 2:

Yes. So whatever you're doing, it's, of course, up to the artists, right? Every artist has a different perspective and some artists, you know, want to go the safe road, right, want to do it legally, perfectly fine from the beginning. Some artists say, you know, like I don't think it's going to be that big or no one will care about it. But if you're really serious about it and you should always be about your passion, right, about your profession you should consider that because it's still very blurry, as you said, it's still not decided yet. Those cases are. You know, no judge actually saw those cases yet, right? Until someone brings them to court and wants to fight it out in court. So that is why the judge will look into it and say we don't have the laws for it, we have copyright laws, but he has to define does this case, you know, like this present case, actually fall under the certain section of the law, right or not? So the judge is only a person. The judge is not an artist, right? The judge is not familiar with all those things on scene, right, or the things in entertainment. So he comes from the legal background and he has to make the decision. Of course you can file an appeal and then you can have another, the higher court decide over it. But as long as it's still so blurry and not decided, I would highly recommend that you talk to an attorney right who is specialized in those cases, who handles different cases that are very similar, and also the other party should have an attorney right so the attorneys can talk to each other and find an agreement right Before you start with your work, because you can create an amazing artwork, an amazing you know whatever it is right, a dance movie, or you know a show, and you don't expect it to be big right In the beginning.

Speaker 2:

You just do it out of passion, because you love what you do. And then all of a sudden, after a couple of years, it goes big right, and then everyone wants to talk about it and you are not sure do I really have the copyright, you know? Do I really have? Am I protected, legally protected, right. So it's not possible to create those kinds of contracts afterwards right, when there's already a dispute. So you have to have them in place before someone is claiming that was my idea, right, that was my idea. Now it's getting big, cindy's making millions with it, like all of a sudden, you know, like those, those things happen and then someone says we talked about this and it was actually my idea, and the person can prove conversations with you or emails that were exchanged right. So then it would.

Speaker 2:

Then the judge, who is not a professional in your field, has to make a decision about your project and your future maybe.

Speaker 2:

Even. So, when you have an agreement in place like judges, legal professionals, law agreements it's not because it's a lot of paperwork, because it makes everything safer for every kind of law, for copyright law, for music law, intellectual property, for private law, for every kind of area. It makes it super easy to understand what was agreed upon and what did you want to happen in the case of a dispute. So I would highly recommend always, even if you have to spend a little bit of money on those contracts or to talk to an attorney, you should do it, because you never know if it's going to be one of your biggest projects and you don't want to lose that project and lose what comes with it, because it's not only about the financial aspect. It's also like you claim to be the owner and someone comes along and says I had the talk with Cindy actually a couple of years ago and that was my idea right. Even if it's not true, you still have to fight about it, about your own property, so I would highly recommend it. Yes.

Speaker 1:

That is so important what you said right there. From the moment you start your project, even if it's just a passion project, have those agreements, have it clear that it's your intellectual property, because it will be very difficult to fight afterwards project. Have those agreements, have it clear that it's your intellectual property, because it will be very difficult to fight afterwards. So what would be? I'm sure that there are differences in different industries. Is there any sort of general rule of claiming your intellectual property? Obviously, in music there are certain organizations where you can submit your work screenwriters as well. Is it a matter of different industries work differently, or is it like, is there a general rule where you can say, okay, this is the way you can claim your intellectual property for a show, a script, well it always depends on the area and which court you have to, you know, file a claim to.

Speaker 2:

So it's always you have to look at it. What are you claiming? Are you actually claiming the rights to the artwork? Are you claiming you know the revenue you're making with it? What exactly are you claiming? So in a legal agreement, it would be a paragraph that says artists' rights and then it says a copyright and the right to credit right, which can be, you know, if you put it in an agreement, it would be the artist reserves all the rights of reproduction, production and all copyrights in the work, the design and any incidental works made in the creation of the artwork. Right?

Speaker 2:

So you cover everything. You cover thinking process. It's very important too, right? You exchange a lot with other people. You say you know I had an amazing idea. What do you think about that? That's the thinking process that also has to be protected, because another person could steal or could actually copy that idea and you have not protected it yet. So all these things matter because you never know where it goes, and I can just say that the artists are passionate about what they do, right? So, whatever it is, you don't want to lose it and you don't, especially you don't want to fight and prove to someone, to a judge, who does not know your industry. If he does not know your industry, he can only look at the case and make a legal decision and he will not take a lot of time to get to know you or the other person.

Speaker 2:

So he might not even do research before he sees you in court, because he's just going case by case and sees what has been filed to him, right, and he will not even look into you know who is claiming what? Just what is presented in court. So you might be right, but if you're not taking an attorney who is specialized in those things, right, and does this for the first time, or you are not represented at all, right, you want to just go do it yourself. That's a very bad advice because you could end up losing the case. And if you want to appeal, there are certain things you cannot bring to court. You know in the appeal court that has already been discussed in the court where you filed it. So it's dangerous to think you know it's mine. Of course it's mine, right? I created that and everyone will believe me, or I can prove it easily. It's not that easy when you don't have a signed agreement.

Speaker 1:

Right and that is so eye-opening for me because I'm just thinking of where I was as a young artist and even where I'm at now and things like that Could you just clarify a little bit about? You said your agreement can be about rights or about revenue. So when you have something in the contract that says I reserve all the rights, Does that mean that whatever happens with somebody that wants to use the work, it's only a credit that they can use, or every step needs to be negotiated in terms of how much the percentage that you want, the revenue that you want, like what is the difference between just rights and revenue?

Speaker 2:

Yes, so usually what you should do. You should have a clause, a paragraph, that talks about the rights, the artist's rights and also what happens in the financial aspect. So are you selling some of those, you know, partial rights to someone, to production companies? That's usually what you have to do because you want to publish your artwork. So there's an agreement because you need to get it out, to get your art piece produced and to get it on screen or to even advertise, and usually artists cannot do that right. It's too much of a hassle to do that by yourself or by your own team. So you need to have this chain of different professionals in the area that you work with. But you have an agreement with right. So it's very clear, stated how much percentage do you have to pay them right? So it's very clear, stated how much percentage do you have to pay them right. What can you keep as an artist? Are you sharing the rights or are you the sole owner of the intellectual property and you're only for a certain period of time?

Speaker 1:

you give someone access to produce and reproduce your art, and so how can we then apply this concept of intellectual property to events? So, like I said in the introduction, it's maybe a dance competition with very specific rules that nobody has ever done before, an educational program that you have really thought through in a special way. Really, when it comes to events, can we protect intellectual property and how, and how do we apply it?

Speaker 2:

Yes, when it comes to events or shows right that usually are taking place one time, it's not something that you know people can stream or people can just download right, it's an in-person event usually. So you should have not only a contract for you know, for the venue right, but also contracts for for your piece, that that states clearly that this is your intellectual property, this is your piece, this is your artwork and you are. You know, you're performing at a certain venue and you should have an agreement with this venue in place, right, that that states exactly your rights that you are allowed to perform. No, how big is the team? Right? That states exactly your rights that you are allowed to perform. How big is the team? Right? How big is the performance team?

Speaker 2:

The dancers, the musicians, the camera team, and also, on the other side, what are the rights and obligations of the venue? So they have to provide the venue for you. They are liable for anything that happens or not. All these things. Liability what happens if there's an accident with someone who is watching? It doesn't have to be someone from the crew, it can also be someone that is going to the venue. What happens in those cases? Usually, there's a disclaimer for liability that says the venue is not liable for anything that happens at the location. But if you have attorneys in place, they will discuss all these things right and they will say no. That it's just fair if you share responsibilities too. Or what happens in the case of there is a big thunderstorm or there's a hurricane, right, and everything is paid up front and the dancers are there, right and everything, and you sold all the tickets, right?

Speaker 2:

What happens in those events that you cannot perform due to unforeseen circumstances Like this? All these things have to be in a contract, otherwise the venue says no, like we didn't put it in the contract, so it was not something that we covered. And you would say no like from common sense perspective, of course, if it doesn't take place, I have to get a refund, or we have to put up another date, right, and see how we can do it with the tickets, right. So those can become problems. Whatever is not in the contract can become a problem too.

Speaker 2:

So you want to have someone that tells you look, you can have the liability clause in the contract, you don't need to, but because of all the history that happened or the cases that happened, anything is possible. There were so many events where there were accidents. There were so many events that something like a nature event happened right. So you want to have these kind of incidents in the contract. Just to make it very realistic what happens in the case that you're not responsible for something and you paid up front. You have your dancers there, you have everyone there and it cannot take place and the venue is sold out for all the other dates that you wanted to book, for example. So that's super important to have it in the contract so you are protected the best way possible.

Speaker 1:

So of course, in the contract we want to add what happens in case of a cancellation, what happens in case of, um, someone, whether it's an audience member or a performer that is getting injured.

Speaker 1:

But then when it comes to really the concept of the event. So I give you an example, an event do you know the show, the voice on tv? You know so. So basically, the concept of the competition is the judges don't see the performer and then they were like, yeah, I like them, and the chair turns around. So that's a very specific competition with very specific rules. Let's say that we run that kind of competition, but in a theater, right, and so the way that we thought through of how people are going to be selected in the competition, you know like nobody has ever done that before. For example, those chairs that turn around, let's say that's totally new. So do we put all those details in the contract, then saying that it's a part of our intellectual property, or do we need to put like a trademark on it, or what would be the best call of action?

Speaker 2:

yeah, you usually put you know the um, what is the matter, the matter of this contract. In the very first paragraph you say what is this contract about, what should be covered, and you can have attachments to the you know, to the, to the contract, and say attachment one is the contract of the artwork. Is you know what is covered in the artwork, what is actually the intellectual property? So you don't have to put everything in the contract between you and the venue, right? Or you are the production, a company, but you have to put everything in a contract that that it's almost like a, you know, is your master plan for this artwork that you created the trademark. It always depends.

Speaker 2:

I highly recommend, if it's like a show that you know it's going to be broadcasted, if it's not only a one-time event, then you should definitely think about and talk to an attorney about the trademark. How can you protect it worldwide? Right, because the Voice, as far as I know, the Voice is almost in every country. Right, there's the Voice Germany, the Voice UK, the Voice Australia, but I'm not sure about other countries. I'm pretty sure in Asia it's also like a big TV show. So that's spread over the world. So they probably had to buy the rights from the owner of the intellectual property who came up with it in the first place, because otherwise he would have sued them for copying his carpet. So I'm pretty sure they had to buy it for a lot of money to be able to use it in other countries what I'm hearing.

Speaker 1:

You tell me if I'm wrong, but let's say that I have a passion project, I have this idea. Let's say that it's the beginning of the voice, but I don't know that it's going to be the voice yet. I do it once in a venue. I can already put in the contract that it is my intellectual property and so forth and so forth. And then at a later stage, when I'm like actually there's potential in this, let me sell this package again. Then eventually I can move on with some sort of trademark to protect this event, because I'm going to do it several times, try to sell it to different venues or to broadcast it and so forth. Would that be a good call of action or am I still taking a lot of risks?

Speaker 2:

You take risks because you will never be the only one that comes up with an idea or with a similar idea. So it's not always copy-paste. It's not always up with an idea or with a similar idea, so it can be. It's not always copy paste. It's not always people stealing an idea. Sometimes people are thinking very similar, they enjoy something very similar as you do, so they come up with similar ideas.

Speaker 2:

And the thing is, the person who has a trademark has it registered. They will look at the date when was it registered, by which party? So even if it was your idea like, let's say it was your idea 2005 or something and then all of a sudden in 2010, it becomes super, super popular and people just go crazy about the show it would be a very bad idea if you hadn't already covered it and registered it, because then people could come along and say there is obviously no trademark. You can look into those records and ask for those records before you actually register a trademark. And there is no such trademark for like the Voice, for example. Right, of course there is, but let's think about if there wasn't, then you could actually come along and say this was my idea and I want to register.

Speaker 2:

So the problem is, if it's not officially registered and you have to go to court, or you get sued for something, or you want to go to court and sue someone for stealing your idea, right, then it's hard to prove because the court will say, okay, that's you know, like, show, show me the record. When did you, when did you register it? When was the trademark like official? And then you have to say, like I didn't, I didn't do that but it wasn't my idea, right, it's. You can still prove that it's your intellectual property, but it's, it's very, it's very difficult, like you would have to prove by you know, certain amount of documents, specific contracts, right, that it was your idea in the beginning, because other people might claim it at the same timeline, or they might say I have the same idea, like a half a year earlier, right. And then it's really about the timeline who came up with it earlier and who registered it. So it's just hard to prove, right, he said, she said, and you would have to prove with documents that it's actually your intellectual property.

Speaker 1:

Am I right in saying that when you trademark something, it's territorial, so you would do it for a country, nationally, or for a continent or worldwide, and is it also crime restricted? Yes, so there are different categories. You can do it for a continent or worldwide, and is it also?

Speaker 2:

crime restricted. Yes, so there are different categories. You can do it for a certain country, for a certain category, for goods, for manual goods, for intellectual goods, for shows, events there are a lot of different categories and also for a certain period of time. So if you hiring an attorney and say, okay, I want this to be worldwide protected, then he would have to give you the best advice, like how to protect that, because the Voice, for example, there are a lot of TV shows that were, like just you know, copied. I don't want to use the word copy because if another country is using the same show, there has to be a contract in place. There's no way that someone is just putting that online or broadcasting it and taking the risk to get sued. There's no way, because it's just too difficult to do that and too risky. So whenever you see shows that are, you know, you see a show in the UK or in Belgium and you see the same show in the US, with different, of course, with different hosts, but the same concept. You can. You will be very sure about that. There was someone like an inventor of the show and this person sold partial copyrights to other countries, to other production companies, and made a lot of money by doing that.

Speaker 2:

But you have to have those contracts in place before and you have to talk to someone to say I want to protect this in various countries, even maybe even worldwide. And it always depends what the attorney is saying is telling you could say, yes, it's possible, or it might not be possible because of certain circumstances. Maybe it's like an in-person event, right, so you cannot cover something worldwide that only happens once, for example, right, so you would have to. You know, you would have to really talk to this person and tell him what do you want, what is your actual goal? Because also there's some misunderstandings. Attorneys think I have all these cases, I have a lot of experience and I know exactly what my client wants. But you might want something else, right, you might say I have an idea and I I can think about this becoming big and I want to protect it everywhere. Um, and yes. So it's very important that you are very clear with what you want to have. You know the best protections for you in place when it comes to just intellectual property.

Speaker 1:

For a screenplay, a piece, a piece of choreography, is that intellectual property? Is that also local, national, territorial? Is there a time frame? Or from the moment that you created a piece of art or a painting or whatever, is that automatically worldwide and automatically for life, or not?

Speaker 2:

No. So when you create something right, it has to be a creation of the human brain. So it cannot be from ai. It cannot be made, you know, by by a system or by a robot. Of course. It has to come from within you. So it has to be an idea, it has to be like. It can be anything like a melody or already like an intro. Melody can be an intellectual property right For movies that have very famous and popular intros. Anything that you created by your imagination, by your creation of your mind.

Speaker 2:

But you have, as long as it's not protected and legally registered, you will have a hard time when it comes to disputes. So you need to make sure that you have contracts in place right, and also to talk to an attorney to say I want to protect this idea. I don't know if it leads somewhere or not. You know that's not the issue, right? That's not the matter. No one knows. No one knows. When they create something, they're just passionate about something right. They think this is amazing.

Speaker 2:

A lot of people will want to have it, you know, like something very useful for everyday life, or like a show, an event. You never know when you start if it's going to be popular or famous. So you just have to take the precautions and have to talk to someone like an attorney for IP, right, that is exactly familiar with those cases and can guide you and say, okay, let's, let's protect this anywhere, right? Because nowadays, as you see, the world is so connected. It's not about, it's not about continents anymore. It's about how, how fam, how familiar are you with?

Speaker 2:

You know, tv shows in the UK and in the US. It's a, it's very similar. These days People have in the US. It's very similar. These days People have a lot of similar tastes. Also the audience right. Then shows where it's like a lot of entertainment. So it's not about like the country anymore, it's about worldwide, as you said. So you want to be sure to protect something, right, that no one can copy without your consent, without getting the copyrights from you, and you can only do that if you have it registered and that proves that you did the right steps in the beginning.

Speaker 1:

Thank you so much for sharing that. I feel a little bit under pressure as an artist now. I'm like, oh, I need to really raise my game in that field. I have received a piece of coaching in the past in many workshops for artists.

Speaker 1:

You tell me if this is valid or if it's actually ludicrous to do this, but I've always been told that the old school way of claiming your intellectual property was to write everything to do with your piece of art, your event, whatever. Write it down, put it in an envelope, post it to yourself. But you know, like when you post it and you pay the post and when you receive it you have to sign it. And then this letter has a stamp on it with the date and if there is any dispute, you can take it to court and say to the judge I have written in a document what this piece of art or what this intellectual property is about. This letter has never been opened. I've sent it to myself. There is a stamp with the date on it. Is that something that could be valid in court or are you saying no, this might have been done in the year 50s, but we don't do that anymore.

Speaker 2:

Exactly, I actually never heard about that that you send to yourself a letter and that can be presented as evidence. I never heard about that. Because when you look at it that way, when you hire an attorney and say I want to be consulted, I don't want to spend a lot of money in the first place because it's a little project or I don't know if it leads anywhere, you just have to get at a consultation and ask the attorney what is the best way to secure and protect my property, my intellectual property, for anything in the future. And the attorney will tell you okay, he doesn't have to represent you for months, right, it's one consultation and then it's maybe one more step to register it, so it will not be that expensive. So I never heard that. Because you have to think about whoever sues someone in court. The person who sues someone, they have to present why they're suing someone. So they have to say this is actually my idea, or this person stole the idea from me in the first place, and they have to present why, right. And then you, as the person who gets sued, or the company, you have the right to defend yourself and tell the court why this is not the reality, why this is not the facts, right. So I never heard about sending yourself a letter. I would not recommend this answer strategy, right? I would say like, go to an attorney.

Speaker 2:

Whatever you think about a new idea, new show, talk to an attorney where you currently want to put up the show or where you want to have the venue right and have the event. Talk to the attorney and say I might do that again, the same show in another country. What do I have to do? Can you help me protect that worldwide? And the attorney will guide you through that. But it's not a good idea to just think nothing's going to happen in the future. There are so many shows worldwide. There's so much going on every day, so many projects. No one will steal my project. You shouldn't think that way. It's better to think, to hope for the best and be prepared for the worst. Right, of course we hope for the best. Well, that's all we do. But we have to be prepared for the worst because if something blows up and it's your creation, it can lead to you know your future is being crashed or you will lose what you established and what you built.

Speaker 1:

Thank you so much, mrs Zambrano. This is very empowering. I would love to share a personal story with you, just because maybe you can make some advice more tangible and also because I believe maybe some listeners might also relate to what happened to me. So it has to do with intellectual property, really to do with an event, so I give you the context. So I have a background in dance, as a choreographer and a theater maker, and I had set up an international exchange program. It was called a thousand pieces puzzle. It was a leadership and professional development program for dancers that were specifically working in the field of hip-hop, dancehall, krump, house, afrobeats.

Speaker 1:

I had different partners in different countries for that and after a few successful years of running the program and even receiving European fundings for the project, one of the partnering institutions in Belgium decided not to program it anymore, or rather not to program me anymore. So of course I'm a freelancer and there is no institution that is under any obligation to program my project anymore. They see that it doesn't fit anymore. Their agenda changes. But it was just surprising because this particular cultural center had benefited from the program In many ways. They had built new audiences, they discovered new artists, a lot of local leaders, hip hop change makers, came out of the program. So the success of it was undeniable. They actually loved the program, but they chose not to program me, cindy the person, anymore. So why they decided not to program me anymore, cindy the person anymore. So the why they decided not to program me anymore I will not go into any details because they related to political problems, also ethically questionable and debatable questions, at least in my opinion. So I will just leave that out of the equation because that is not the purpose of this episode. It's really about intellectual property, and so, when it comes to intellectual property, they basically wanted literally to walk away with my project and put another leader in place. So the project was of my intellectual property the concept, the name, the programming, each and every single workshop that was a part of the of the program had been thought through by me. Every exercise that was developed was born out of my expertise as a choreographer and a dancer, the network as well. So all the teachers that I had brought in um, I was really the one that understood how to address problems of hip hop dancers and what they encountered in the industry, because I was a hip hop dancer myself, the international collaborators, the how we recruited people. So really, actually, everything was the fruit of my brain, of Cindy's brain.

Speaker 1:

And then, following the news that they planned to discontinue the program, I basically put a team together of eight consultants because I didn't really know what to do Producers, artists. They advised me, they helped me craft an email, also a legal email, to protect myself and stand up for my rights. I basically told the organization that we were not moving ahead anymore with the project, but also I reminded them that it was my intellectual property, that nothing could be copied or reproduced. But despite that, I stood my ground and I told this organization that I removed the project from their premises and that they were not allowed to reproduce any of the content. And that they were not allowed to reproduce any of the content. They actually continued calling my international network for about a year and a half, I would say behind my back, and they just wanted to go ahead with the project.

Speaker 1:

My other international partner in London. They had a huge amount of integrity. They would never breach such a contract, they respected my intellectual property. So in that sense I have the impression that I was lucky. But this could have been, or become very messy. So my question to you, knowing this context, because I think maybe some other artists are scared that that could happen to them. At least I'm talking to people where they're like I'm scared that that would ever happen to me. So my question if anybody recognizes themselves in this, so obviously me. In the contract it was written that a thousand pieces puzzle was of my intellectual property. In every single contract, however, again I repeat, I'm an independent artist, I'm a freelancer, I don't have a production house, but I'm collaborating with organizations. The power dynamics are very difficult. What could have been the best way for me to protect myself in the project, the concept, the event? Did I do it well or would you say, actually there are a lot of things you could have even added to that in the future.

Speaker 2:

You know, yes, so I think in that scenario you were lucky because if they had proceeded with the dispute, because they were about to exchange the leader, they keep your project, they keep your idea and move on with this without you, without the creator right, the intellectual who has intellectual property. So if they would have done that, they probably didn't do that because they knew it would be a court battle, a court dispute, right, and they would have. You could have sued them. The problem here is who can prove what? That's the problem, not who is right, because even if you're right and you cannot prove it, you will lose. So that's the unfairness. Even if you are the sole creator of it, you're the mastermind behind this. If you cannot prove that it was your idea, you will lose the legal dispute, you will lose the rights to it and they can just move on, take your piece, move on and replace the other person. So what you can do if you want to protect yourself from those kind of cases in the future because I believe you were lucky or they just didn't know how to proceed, they just didn't want to have a fight right, or they were not sure if they would win it. They probably also consulted with an attorney and they said if Cindy can prove that she's a mastermind and this is her intellectual property, they will lose it and they have to like even your attorney would have, you know also filed for compensation, you know, for all this mess. So they probably didn't want to take the risk right. But if they are more aggressive in the next case or in the next scenario, you know, another party might act different and might want to fight it out in court or might not just give it up so easily.

Speaker 2:

Whenever you have an event planned or a new project, talk to an attorney where you want to set up this project, where you want to have it published or broadcasted, or even shown in person, and talk to this attorney and tell them I want to protect this piece, this piece is my intellectual property. I can show you that it's my property. I set it up, the thinking process is covered, I came up with the idea, I chose who is playing what part, when is the music coming in, I chose all these little things that matter for your intellectual property, and then the attorney will tell you how to protect it. So contracts are very, very important to set up before the event takes place, because as soon as you have people, competitors, or just someone who thinks this is an amazing show. They might just think about it and say, okay, let me look it up if this is protected under the law, and if it's not, they might come up with something very similar and start it. And what if this becomes bigger than your original idea? That you set it up in Belgium, for example? Someone else tries to copy it, sets it up in UK or in the US right, and it's bigger because the audience is bigger, or it's just more popular in other countries.

Speaker 2:

And it was, in fact, your idea. You would never want to have that happen to you. So you should always, no matter how small the idea is, say you would never want to have that happen to you. So you should always, no matter how small the idea is, say, okay, I want to protect it, just in case someone is interested in this idea. You can still talk to them, but you're the owner of the intellectual property and you can sell partial rights of it or you can grant someone access to publish it or reproduce something, but that's up to you.

Speaker 2:

Then if you want to sell it but to not have it registered, that means you have to also expect someone to take it away and to try to claim that it's their property, that's their intellectual property, and some people, some companies, they do not hesitate to fight. So you don't want to have the wrong person confronting you with it, or the wrong company in the next case. You want to be protected. You want to say this is my idea, no one else had this before me, this is everything that I set up comes from my idea. My ideas, Right, and you should. You should never play with your own, with your passion that way.

Speaker 1:

I think that's exactly what I learned. I think I was a very enthusiastic artist. I sort of thought that everybody had integrity and you know, like I really cause we come from that place right when you're just like, like you said, you set up things from passion. Also, this particular project was really my baby. You know like it took me nine years to set it up, so it was really the fruit of a very long process of work.

Speaker 1:

Now, even if they were, you know, if they had copied it, to be honest, they would have done a really bad copy of it because it was so infused with my passion, my knowledge, my expertise, also the human side of it. They would have done a bad copy. Let's be honest, and I want also artists to hear that when we have good concepts, when people copy it, they might probably do a very bad copy of it. But you're right, Like I came from a place of innocence and not everybody, or not every organization, does have integrity and we have to be very aware of it. Now let's take a fictional scenario. Let's say that things go very sour and there is an organization or an institution or a cultural center that is copying our event, for example, what are the steps that we have to take as artists? Can you take, for example, let's say that we contact your law firm? What would be the things that are required? The first conversations with you? What are the steps? What would be the process like?

Speaker 2:

So the process would be that you set up a consultation? Did you say? This is a problem that I have currently? I need to solve it? Right, it's not just going away by itself. It's a problem.

Speaker 2:

Someone addressed me, someone sent me an email, or someone's claiming that this is his idea, her idea, or a company is even sending you already a letter of demand, right, that says you know we have to pay this or you have to immediately, like, give up this event. You have to show us that you're not further performing those kinds of events or shows and it's getting very serious and you know that you cannot just ignore it. It's not a fake, it's not a joke. You cannot further ignore it and you would have to talk to an attorney and then the attorney will say okay, when this is your intellectual property, we need to have evidence for it, right? So they will ask you to please collect everything that you have from it can be emails for someone in your team that whenever you came up with the idea when you were brainstorming, the thinking process is protected. When you come up with a new idea when there are no contracts, the attorney would tell you to please gather all the information. Do you have any messages, any emails, any correspondence with someone else, Can you have witnesses that can prove that they talk with you and you told them about your idea? When was that? So you would have to create a timeline of events when your idea, when you first had the idea and when did you communicate it to someone, right? So it's more difficult if you don't have an agreement or have no contract or you never registered it.

Speaker 2:

But it's not impossible to prove. You just have to come up with a lot of more evidence, like witnesses, right? That witness should not be your partner or should not be your family member, right? It should be someone you work with in the past. Or it can be employees, right? Or it can be a team member that's fine, but it should not be, you know, the closest circle, because the credibility is very important. So you always have to think about how can you? How can you prove that it was your idea, right? When you don't have a contract in place? You have to prove it otherwise.

Speaker 2:

So that's what the attorney is going to tell you. We need to. We need you to please collect all the evidence you have and send everything to us and we will look through it and say, OK, this is important, this is not so important and it's good for us, that's not good for us. And then present only the positive, what is positive for you, in your interest, Present it to the other party and say, look, this is not the chase.

Speaker 2:

Our client has the intellectual property on this art, on this piece, and we need you to withdraw from anything you're doing with this piece and with this project, because otherwise we have to file a lawsuit against you and see what happens then. But you have to. You cannot answer a serious demand when you have no evidence. So that's why it's so important for you to, whenever you think you know that email is not important, right? Or that message is not important about it, or I don't want to bother that witness, he might not speak up for me. You don't think about that. You have to prove that your art piece is your intellectual property, even if you don't want to include other people with it. If that's the only way to prove it, you have to call them as witnesses.

Speaker 1:

I love what you said there. I think very practical things. Put things in writing. Even emails are important, archive brainstorms, all of that kind of things. Witnesses, I was going to ask you about witnesses and you mentioned it and then you also said oh, actually your attorney, once he put all the case together, he's basically going to ask people to withdraw their actions and maybe it's not even become a lawsuit because maybe they're just going to drop everything right there and there and they don't want to fight and then they're like, okay, they might just retract.

Speaker 2:

Yes, you always try to settle it out of court, because that's the best, the most effective and the fastest way to settle something.

Speaker 2:

You can tell them, demand for them to withdraw any actions regarding this project because you can prove that it's your intellectual property, set them a deadline to do so and you can also, at the same time, ask for compensation you know, for the violation of your intellectual property, for the infringement that happened, if you can really determine when the competitor used your intellectual property. But sometimes it's a little bit hard. You just someone detects it right online and you cannot really prove has this been used two years already or not. But you can ask for a compensation and say I can prove this is my intellectual property and you had a financial reason to do that. So they have to also disclose how much they actually earned and made revenue with a certain event and made revenue with a certain event. So that's what your attorney should do too not to only say you have to stop doing whatever you're doing with my intellectual property, but also to say how much did you actually made with this project? That is my idea.

Speaker 1:

Wow, this is such empowering information. To wrap up this interview, I have a very specific question for you. Us as independent artists, lawyers and law firms can be scary, and even though you're going to work for us to protect us. But what advice would you give us in terms of if we want to contact a law firm such as yours, whether that is to start the process of protecting our intellectual property or coming to see you because we got into a disagreement. What would you tell us so that we are not scared to make that first step?

Speaker 2:

So what I always recommend is you should. This is a huge market, so it's not only one attorney doing that. There are a lot of attorneys specialized in those cases. You have to set up consultations with the one you think might be a good fit and after this consultation, which can take an hour or two hours sometimes, there's not a limit. Whatever you want to ask, ask the attorney in the first consultation and then you see okay, do I want to work with this person or are we on the same track? Does he or she understand me? Is he motivated enough to take on my case? All those things matter.

Speaker 2:

You should ask anything you want in the first consultation and not be scared, because the sooner you decide for someone, the faster you can actually go ahead and get it done. Because if you're only talking to attorneys and you always say, okay, I don't know if I should proceed. Maybe the problem gets solved by itself. I just ignore it. It will not. At some point it will not be solved anymore, right, when you receive something like a serious email from someone, you have to do something, because otherwise you risk getting sued. So what I recommend is like setting up consultations with attorneys that you you know you can Google online where you can see I would like to talk to this person, and then you should make a decision after this consultation and say, okay, let's move forward, or maybe it's not the best attorney, not for my case, right? And then you can. You know you have a free choice also.

Speaker 1:

Thank you so much, mrs Zambrano. I feel our conversation was so human and you demystified so many aspects. I feel our conversation was so human and you demystified so many aspects and I really hope a lot of artists feel empowered after having listened to you. I definitely feel my heart has opened and I feel like I'm I feel a bit stronger in my shoes, you know, as an independent artist, and less scared to actually come and talk to somebody like you for my future projects. Could you, if people want to know more about your law firm? Of course I will put it in the show notes as well, but could you tell us what the best way is to contact you? Is it by email, go to the website or maybe perhaps even follow you on social media to see all the things that you're doing?

Speaker 2:

Yes, so if people want to find us we're everywhere on Google like, so you can find the website. You can reach our offices in Germany and the US by email. It's info at lawyer-berlin-miamicom. You can always give us a short notice that you want to set up a call or also send us an email with documents that you receive, right If it's already serious. So we try to schedule very shortly first consultations within 24 hours if possible, so we can talk about it and you can move on. You can take the next steps. If you say like I don't have a good feeling with this attorney or I might have to look for someone else, you can move on as quickly as possible because in most cases you don't have a lot of time to respond. So you already have this kind of pressure and the stress that you want to get this clarified and you want to sort it out. But the other person is giving you maybe a week to respond and makes already claims. So you want to have it done as soon as possible. So that's why it's important Don't wait.

Speaker 2:

If you get something, don't think it's a joke or it's just it's a scam. A lot of people think I got it per email and not per original mail. It must be a scam, it's not right. So you can receive something right from another party per email Only. Courts have to actually send you something by original mail, so another person or another company does not have to do that. So that's very important to not ignore it. Whatever you're getting right and say I want to have an attorney respond to that accordingly to hopefully dismiss it out of court, because a lot of cases get settled out of court, but only if you take action. If you don't take action, you will definitely receive court papers and it gets more expensive with that. The attorney's fees get more expensive than out of court. Of course everything gets more expensive with that. The attorney's fees get more expensive. Then out of court of course everything gets more expensive and delayed if you wait longer.

Speaker 1:

Right. Thank you so much, mrs Zambrano, for all these clarifications. I really hope that you will come back on the podcast at some point to talk even about more legal matters, but this was an incredibly enriching, enriching session. Incredibly enriching session. I'm very happy to hear that.

Speaker 2:

Yes, and whatever you know, when you have any questions, you can always reach out to us. And yeah, we're happy to help.

Intro: Navigating Intellectual Property in the Arts, And Artistic Events
Overcoming the fear of contacting an Attorney
Presentation of our Guest: Attorney Vera Zambrano
Intellectual Property: Important Basics
AI and Intellectual Property
Example: AI in Film
AI, IP, and the law, diving deeper into the topic
Rights and Revenue
IP when setting up Events
In-Person Events, and Trademarks
IP: time and territory
Myth or Reality?
A personal story: 1000 Pieces Puzzle
How to handle a dispute about IP
Overcoming the fear of contacting an Attorney