In our effort to educate about crowdsourcing and provide some useful content to all those who are interested in it, we are (also) writing articles in specialized journals. Here is an English introduction into some of the points made in an article called « Role and responsibilities of crowdsourcing actors » (“Rôle et responsabilité des acteurs du crowdsourcing”) published in the July issue of the Revue Lamy Droit de l’Immatériel, a French law journal that focuses on intellectual property and digital activities.
In the article, I describe in a legal perspective and under French law, how the different actors of crowdsourcing (companies, crowdsourcing platforms and participants) interact during a collaborative promotion and what their respective responsibilities are. As it is only available in French, here’s a set of exceprts summarized in English, for all to read. It’s a perfect preparatory read for next week’s legal webinar!
The platform’s main obligation is to make sure the contest goes as smoothly as planned. A crowdsourcing platform works as an intermediary between creators and companies. A platform undertakes to deliver services allowing creators to participate and companies to be eventually provided with crowdsourced content. In that respect, the main purpose of its obligations is to make sure the crowdsourcing content is compliant with applicable law and goes smoothly and as planned pursuant to its contractual obligations towards the companies and creators.
A platform’s obligation is to make sure the contest goes as smoothly as planned
Our crowdsourcing initiatives are contests (a contest is a promotion where selection is based on the evaluation of the skills of the participants and where chance plays no part) which mainly target consumers. The fact that participants are not professional is at the core of the crowdsourcing philosophy. Indeed, by reaching out to the crowd, companies expect to receive content expressing a genuine and consumer-based vision which is likely to be a complement to that of the professional agencies.
By reaching out to the crowd, companies expect to receive genuine and consumer-based visions which are complementary to that of the professional agencies
Crowdsourcing platforms must comply with consumer law and make sure their practice can’t be construed as unfair commercial practice (pratiques commerciales trompeuses), under the French consumer law (Code de le consommation). Providing participants with a clear and intelligible set of rules of participation is also really important in that respect. Indeed, informing non-professionals with transparency will strenghten the binding effect of the rules.
Intellectual property is at the core of creative crowdsourcing. Indeed, the purpose of crowdsourcing is to get the crowd to submit entries, some of which are selected by the sponsor and then used by the company in its different commercial activities. Intellectual property and how intellectual property rights are duly transferred from the participants to the companies is a subject which must be addressed with the most serious care. Crowdsourcing platforms must make sure that the mechanism of intellectual property rights assignment and compensation of the creators comply with the law.
Crowdsourcing platforms must make sure that their IP transfer mechanisms comply with the law
In France, the intellectual property code (Code de la propriété intellectuelle) includes strict provisions regarding how authors’ rights on a creative work can be transferred and be the subject of an assignment agreement. For example, the compensation received by the creators for assigning their rights is also a matter that platforms should take with consideration. Fairness is the key word.
Fairness of compensation is the key word
The compensation should always be fair to the creator in consideration of the scope of the assignment. Unfair compensation could be seen as a prejudice and could jeopardize the validity of the assignment. And, as we said, stipulations about compensation must comply with applicable law.
Do you want a more visual explanation of crowdsourcing from a legal perspective?
Join our “Creative Crowdsourcing From a Legal Perspective” webinar next Wednesday at 6PM CEST (6PM in Paris, 12PM in New York City, 9AM in Los Angeles). I will present some of the legal aspects of creative crowdsourcing in a short presentation before turning to the crowd for a Q&A with the audience.