After a first blog post about the diversity of contributions you can get in creative crowdsourcing, and another about eYeka’s IP policy, this one concludes our three-part series about creative crowdsourcing from a legal perspective. Let’s indeed have a look at the role of the contest organizer to facilitate the process of sourcing ideas and content in the crowd.
Being open about legal concerns will mitigate the legal risk
Crowdsourcing contests are web-based promotions which are generally run globally with very little restriction in order to appeal to as many people as possible. A crowdsourcing platform, as any business paying attention to its clients’ needs, must be able to deliver quickly by implementing organized and streamlined processes while being capable of adaptating to its clients’ specific requirements. Running global online crowdsourcing promotions may be a source of risks and conflicts for a company. There is no point in denying that.
Risk is basically part of the game when you play with the crowd
This is a consumer-related matter with intellectual property implications, like ensuring the fairness of the selection of entries or the enforceability of the online agreements signed between clients, participants and the crowdsourcing platform. Before engaging in crowdsourcing, you should weight the risk versus the opportunity to gain quality consumer insights (in addition to the other benefits of crowdsourcing, such as getting content in a short period of time at a competitive price). Nevertheless, some issues may be deemed as too risky:
- What if a participant lives in a country in which open creativity doesn’t seem to comply with local laws?
- What if an actor claims that he never gave the creator his authorization to use his image?
- What if a winning entry has been created by a minor?
Some of these issues can be considered on a legal perspective and may lead the crowdsourcing platform to modify its standard terms and conditions to reassure the client. Both should openly discuss these matters in order to find solutions based on their respective experience of online promotions and open creativity. Eventually, usual processes and legal documentation of the platform can be fine-tuned and adapted so as to mitigate risks. Some solutions are: Participation eligibility to a mutually agreed list of countries, an age gate system, providing the community with templates of releases for likeness of models, etc.
After fair discussions with the platform, and provided that such adaptations are mutually agreed, you will get to run your online contest in a framework in which you feel safe. It is important to be aware that such adaptions may also restrict participation. Ultimately, it is all about balance, given that too many restrictions could have a deterrent effect on participation, but no restrictions could breach the law.
Setting up a more stringent framework can make clients feel more comfortable with crowdsourcing
We’ve learned from our experience that the foregoing should be addressed and finalized long before the date a contest is supposed to go live. This may be subject to complex discussion between the client’s legal and commercial teams and the platform’s legal advisors.
How we adapt to our clients’ requirements: An example
At eYeka, participants whose submissions are selected as winners usually assign the IP rights on their entries. Our clients seek creative materials to use in their business activities either as a medium which will be communicated and strongly associated to their brand (a product design or a viral video) or as a source of inspiration to later develop their own products.
The assignment of IP rights is the best way to secure future use by acquiring exclusive ownership
Nonetheless, we are occasionally approached by partners who want to get creative ideas and content from the crowd, but for whom exclusive ownership of entries is not necessary. UNESCO came up to eYeka with such a request.
The purpose of the UNESCO contests organized by eYeka was to ask our community to create content to create more awareness of public causes such as freedom of the press or the celebration of the memory of the world (see left). No commercial use was intended by UNESCO, exclusivity and assignment of IP rights were clearly out of the picture. The use of the entries had to be governed by Creative Commons licenses as a token of UNESCO’s commitment towards free distribution of creative works.
We adapted our usual contest rules in order to adjust to UNESCO’s requirement of having Attribution-ShareAlike licenses.
Don’t be afraid of legal concerns when contemplating the possibility to crowdsource ideas or content. The crowdsourcing platform, acting as an experienced professional of open creativity, is your best ally to make it happen! It is the job of companies like eYeka to enable the community’s creativity while adjusting to clients’ expectations and specifications. It is not always easy, but it is definitely possible to balance an open crowdsourced model with complex, multi-countries compliance requirements.
- How do Specialized Intermediaries Facilitate Creative Crowdsourcing? (InnovationManagement.se)