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Personal Finance

Secure your selfies with copyright law

The advent of mobile phones has disrupted photography and videography globally.
The advent of mobile phones has disrupted photography and videography globally. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

The advent of mobile phones has disrupted photography and videography globally. About two decades ago, getting quality photos and videos involved a trip to the studio or investing in expensive equipment.

This is not necessarily the case anymore due to the use of smartphones. A recent study on phone usage shows Kenya has a 90 percent mobile phone penetration and was also found to have the highest rate globally for internet use through mobile phones compared to desktops.

These statistics and facts reveal a profound effect on the traditional photography and videography. This is the reality that the sector has to contend with.

Smartphones come with cameras; some of them have features that enable the production of high quality images and videos.

Photo and video editing apps and software make it possible to produce what beats studio images.

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There is continuous innovation through apps and mobile phones. The recent excitement over FaceApp is one of the examples of continuous innovations that continue to disrupt the sector.

FaceApp enables users to guess how they would look when older or if they were of a different gender. Traditional studios don’t do that.

Nevertheless, the mainstream photography and videography still have some innovation.

One is the use of drones to take photos and videos at events such as weddings or for ads.

Many real estate video advertisements have been taken using drones. Use of drones requires following aviation laws to secure a permit and licence from the regulator. The law on usage of drones has stringent requirements to ensure the safety of the public.

Let us today examine the emerging copyright issues raised by increased use of mobile phones.

Recently, a colleague took a creative selfie and it prompted this article. I took the owner of the picture through some copyright issues she could observe to bar third parties from commercialising the photo.

Did you know that some photographs, videos, ‘selfies’ and audios that you take through your phone can be eligible for copyright protection if they meet the standard?

Copyright protects literary works (for example, poems), sound and audio recordings, audio visuals and artistic works. Such works have a 50-year protection.

This means you can control the reproduction and distribution of the same, for example a third party cannot use your video without permission.

Most of mobile phone-based creations are shared through social media such as WhatsApp.

Infringement of a protected work depends on the manner of usage. For example, if you share an album through WhatsApp you can be sued for infringement by the owner. Social media sites also have their own copyright policies that should be adhered to.

If the owner wants his works to be less susceptible to infringement he should be careful how he shares it. There is a big difference between sharing your work with an individual and posting it to a group.

However, too much control of your works can spoil the fun intended through social media. Can you imagine how stifling it would be if people claimed legal rights over selfies?

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