Wednesday, 4 May 2011

Legal constraints of interactive media


Copyright is a set of exclusive rights that protect an original work. Copyright gives the author of the copyright the right to prevent others from doing things with that work including copying, distributing and adapt the work, lending or playing the work to the public or broadcasting the work this is known as restricted acts.
To break copyright law a person must carry out a restricted act that is protected by copyright.
In relation to interactive media copyrightable work could include computer programs, audio visual recordings (movies/video). You would be in infringement of copyright if you printed a web page or copied a code from the page without permission.

The impact of copyright within the interactive media industry

The interactive media industry is particularly open to abuse, especially theft of images and content from websites. There is usually a copyright section of a website giving information about the copyright for that particular website.

Here is an example of a copyright page from a website, it gives details of copyright. If the owner of this website did not have exclusive rights, there would be no copyright to breach so anyone could take anything from that website and claim it as their own and use it for whatever purpose they saw fit. The owner would not have a leg to stand on and no legal right to the content on their website because if it was not protected by copyright.
Just because a website does not have a copyright page it does not mean that they do not have copyright. When considering copying something you should always assume it is copyright protected and ask permission to avoid prosecution.

I found an extract from an online article at

it states

“If you work is not copyrighted its as good as not being yours, anybody and everybody could use your work for anything without any implications, however if you do have copyright over your work and somebody breaches that copyright heavy fines is the norm. It can be many thousands of dollars for downloading music. For a company or corporation, it can be based on the lost revenues due to the copyright violation and can be tens of thousands and even millions of dollars”

the quote backs up my opinion about the implications of not having copyright over your work and also the penalties of breaking copyright law.

Design rights

Design rights are the rights to a design, this can include the appearance of a product such as the shape. Texture, colour, materials used contours and ornamentation.
Design rights are usually owned by the creator of the design. However the rights would belong to the employer or whoever commissioned the work if the work was created or commissioned during the course of employment. This also applies to work created at a school or college, the school/college owns any work you create while studying there.

The impact of design rights within the interactive media industry
The impact of design rights are that if you where commissioned to do some work or did some work under an employer then they would own the rights to your work you would not be able to sell that work or do anything else with it unless you got permission from them, because you could be making money from something they own.
A related example is if you create a piece of interactive media such as a video or a website while attending a school or college and you wanted to sell that interactive media you would have to ask permission from the school or college.

An example of the impact of how design rights effect interactive media is the image above. I created this music video at college as part of a project, Even though it is all my own work and I was the one who created this piece of interactive media, It belongs to the college and I cannot sell it or use it for my own gain without contacting the college and asking for their permission because they own the rights to my work.

I found a quote online at
that backs my opinion on design rights up,
it states
“I wanted to sell some of the paintings I had created for my GCSE art exam but my teacher told me that I could not because it didn't belong to me and the school actually owned my work even though I was the one who painted it, it sucks”
This quote online is an example of how design rights are implemented within schools and colleges, the student wanted to sell there art work but was unable to because it belonged to the school.

Moral and paternal rights

Moral rights are to protect the reputation and personality of the authors.
The author of a work cannot be identified unless it is their wish and they give notice to those seeking to use or exploit the work.

The impact of moral and paternal rights within interactive media

An example of the impact of moral rights within the interactive media industry is when Gordon Ramsay slated the reputation of a TV presenter on television.

I found an online quote at

it stated

Never one shy of making a statement, Gordon Ramsey is on full PR backtrack mode in Australia after calling one of the country's most esteemed journalists "An ugly, old pig, he also called her a lesbian"

This is a screen-shot from a video I found online of the incident when comments were made by Gordon Ramsey that may have damaged somebody's

I found a quote online at

from the T.V presenter that backs up my opinion that she thought the comments could harm her reputation and that she may have taken legal action if Gordon had not apologised. I have highlighted the relevant info in red.

'Truly, I wonder how many people would laugh if they were effectively described as ‘an old ugly pig’. How is that funny exactly? And worse, it’s not even witty especially when it effects someone's reputation. Obviously Gordon thinks that any woman that doesn’t find him attractive must be gay. For the record, I don’t and I’m not. We’ve all seen how Gordon Ramsay treats his wife – and he supposedly loves her. If Gordon had not apologised I would have taken action against him, I have a reputation and I am willing to protect it at whatever cost"


Trademarks are distinctive sign used to identify products and services and to distinguish them from the others. A trademark is usually a name, word, phrase, logo, symbol or image but can be a combination of these things. A trademark is designated by the symbols below.

The impact of trademarks within interactive media

The primary purpose of having a trademark would be to distinguish your company from other ones, particularly when you have speciality products or merchandise or the name of your company has a good reputation. A trademark can be almost anything so long as it helps the consumer identify with the particular service or product. In interactive media you may have a trademark for your website. A trademark can be a phrase,saying,symbol picture, sound recording or even just a colour. If your product becomes popular a trademark would be employed so as not to lead to brand mix ups or loss of revenue.

If you have a trademark for your logo you can keep the trademark for 10 years without having to bother renewing it.
This example is related to interactive media because The 20th century fox logo is an animated logo seen on video and TV and the imitation logo was made using 3D development software 3D Studio Max, it has been posted online on you tube and anybody can access it.

This animated logo has the same text style and colour as the 20th century fox logo, if whoever made this logo did not have permission then they would be liable to prosecution.

Here is an extract from the 20th century fox website, it is part of the copyright section and backs up my opinion that the above example violates the company's trademark, because it violates some of the restrictions below. I have highlighted them in red.

the above example shows how the mock 20th century fox logo clearly breaks the restrictions on the trademark because it has been duplicated, not used for private and distributed on the internet.


A patent is a set of exclusive rights granted to an inventor for a limited time period in exchange for a public disclosure of an invention. A patent protects these inventions by covering how they work, what they do, How they do it, what they are made of and how they are made. A patent gives the owner the right to prevent others from doing things such as using, selling, making, or importing the invention without the owners permission.

The impact of patents within interactive media

I found this video on the web of an episode of dragons den where a man shows an invention he has apparently created.

I found information from another website that told of how the invention this man apparently made had already been made by someone else,the original invention was made in the same way and did the exact same thing. Even the names where similar.

here is an extract from the article

After his triumph on Dragons' Den, Mr Harsley's former firm, Millepede, told the Patent Office his 'next generation cable tie' might not be as revolutionary as thought. Millepede
claimed the Rapstrap infringed the patent of its own plastic cable tie, called the Quickstrip, an early version of which Mr Harsley had helped develop a decade ago”

The extract from the article tells how Mr Harsley has copied a design that belongs to someone else mainly how it was made and what it was made out of he may have broken the patent on that invention and me be liable to prosecution because of it.

Obtaining permissions

Obtaining permissions means that you have to

  • find out if permission is needed
  • find out who the copyright holder or agent is
  • request permission in writing
  • If the copyright holder cannot be located
  • consult others as needed

The impact of obtaining permissions within the interactive media industry

Obtaining permissions is important in the interactive media industry especially because of the amount of copyrighted material found on the web that can easily be copied. If you did not write or create an article, graphic, or data that you found, then you need permission from the owner before you can copy it.
For example if you were creating a website and you needed images or text you may be tempted to use somebody's image or text.
If you use someone's image, code, or text without permission, it is classed as stealing, and the owner can take action against you because If you have not obtained permission, you have violated the owner's copyright.
If you want to use somebody's copyrighted work such as an image or text or anything that is copyright protected you must first find out if permission is needed and request permission to use that copyrighted material in writing from the Web site content owner.
All you need to do is explain what you want to use the copyrighted material for and ask for permission to use it. A method of obtaining permission in writing could be to simply send an email to the Web developer of the page that you would like permission from.
Other things you might want to include when you request permission in writing are when you need the permission by, examples of other material you have reprinted, and a description of your Web page so that the copyright owner can use this information to make their decision whether or not to permit you to use the copyrighted material that they own.

This is an example from part of a website that gives details of exactly what you have to do to obtain permission to use the content of their website. Because the details are clear, easy to follow and available this will encourage people to obtain permission and not risk the consequences of using the content without permission and infringing copyright.

I found a quote online at

that backs up my opinion about why it is important to obtain permissions

Although national laws may allow some limited use without permission under the terms of fair use or fair dealing, these are very limited and quite specific exceptions. If you are in any doubt whatsoever, you should always get the permission of the copyright owner. If you are found guilty of copyright infringement or plagiarism you could face legal charges, fines, or in extreme cases even imprisonment”.


There are two types of defamation, libel (any form of communication, such as written words or images) and slander (a malicious, false spoken statement or report). It is the communication of a statement that is implied to be true when in fact it is false.

The impact of Libel within the interactive media industry

I found an online article about an instance where a couple of M. P's where accused of libel for posted remarks on a website about a the website of another M.P. The original images from the website are no longer available online due to legal reasons, but I found the website of one of the M.Ps involved who repeats the remarks on his website.
Here is a screen shot of the website

The comments that were made by the two M. Ps would be classed as libel because they were statements communicated in written form that were implied to be true when they were false, The two M.Ps could have been jailed.
I have included the comments that were found online at to back up my point and show why there comments would be considered as libel.
Here is an extract from the website where the remarks were posted.
Earlier today Labour blogger Luke Bozier tweeted:
Gordon Brown’s Web Creator website is not befitting of a former Prime Minister. Tangent should be ashamed.
In this example Luke Bozier was stating that the web design company was not up to scratch. These comments could be classed as libel because they are communicated in written form and implied to be true. Bozier also blogged his opinion in a longer post saying that Tangent, the web company that does many websites for the Labour party, were “taking the Labour community for a ride”.
The creator of the website must have known the legal action that could have been the outcome of the m.p's remarks because he replied here is the extract from the article.
I respectfully suggest you delete that tweet, issue no more similar ones and generally try to sell your products in a more professional way. I really don’t like the prospect of either a public slanting match or legal action, but if I need to protect my company’s business and reputation, I will”

Race relations act
The race relations act makes it unlawful to discriminate against anyone on the grounds of their race, colour, nationality, religious beliefs, national or ethnic origins. The Act generally applies to the fields of employment, planning, housing, the exercise of public functions - both by public authorities and also private bodies exercising public functions. It also applies to the provision of goods, facilities and services, and to education.

The impact of the Race relations act within interactive media

I found an article online about two men who were controlling websites spreading racial hatred.
Here is the article I found on the independent newspaper website, here is the link;

Two men have been jailed after becoming the first in the UK to be convicted of inciting racial hatred online. Simon Sheppard, 52, was sentenced to four years and 10 months while Stephen Whittle, 42, was given a term of two years and four months.
The men printed leaflets and controlled websites featuring racist material, then fled to the US after being convicted of race-hate offences at a trial last year. On arrival their asylum application was rejected and they were deported back to the UK. Leeds Crown Court heard that Whittle wrote offensive articles which were then published on the internet by Sheppard.”

This is an example of the cover of the published material that was found to incite racial hatred online, some other images that were published online included grotesque images of murdered Jews. This particular cartoon is in breach of the race relations act because it ridicules a an ethnic group and has the potential to course grave social harm. Jews in this example, it suggests that the holocaust which saw a great many Jews murdered during the war was in fact not true, it is abusive and insulting to this particular ethnic group and has the potential to cause great social harm because of its content.

racist article that was posted online by the same people, the article makes particular racist remarks about a certain ethnic group, the two men where in breach of the race relations act and the consequences of there actions were that they were sent to prison.

I found a quote online at

that backs up my opinion that racism on websites can course social harm it states;

Some beliefs in society will attract negative reaction, such as racism particularly comments made on social networking sites cause increasing degrees of social harm once it reached a certain point”

Obscene publications act

The obscene publications act is concerned with the publication of obscene matter. It provides protection for literature and strengthens the law concerning pornography.
The obscene publications act concerns showing anything that is depraved or corrupt which includes such things as torture,bestiality,necrophilia,or rape.
If you break the law under the obscene publications act you could get a prison sentence.
If you download, contain or share the maximum prison sentence is 3 years. The prison sentence for creating or producing such content is two years and you can get a 6 month jail sentence for downloading obscene content.

The impact of the obscene publications act within interactive media

In interactive media the obscene publications act applies to showing obscene or corrupt content within interactive media such as in video,websites or even computer games.
I found an article online related to interactive media about how a computer game was banned under the obscene publications act.
The article is about a computer games developer who created game that apparently corrupted the mind of a 17 year old causing him to act out what he had seen in that game and kill his friend with a hammer.
Here is an extract from the article that states how the game encouraged the 17 year olds actions;
The original Manhunt game caused huge controversy and was blamed for the murder of Stefan Pakeerah.
"There is sustained and cumulative casual sadism in the way in which killings are committed, and encouraged, in the game."
The boy was stabbed and beaten to death in Leicester in February 2004.
His parents believe the killer, Warren LeBlanc, 17, was inspired by the game.
The game was considered to contain corrupt and depraved content which included such things as sneaking up on people and suffocating them with plastic bags and smashing there skulls with hammers.
The creator was taken to court and the game was banned and put under the obscene publications act. The creator was given a two year prison sentence.

This is an example/screen shot from the video game Manhunt that was banned under the obscene publications act. The example clearly shows how the player has to take an enemy from behind and suffocate them with a plastic bag.
This was in breach of the obscene publications act because it was considered as corrupt because of the way the killings were encouraged in the game.

Computer misuse act

The computer misuse act was makes it illegal to gain unauthorized access or hack into a computer for blackmail,altering and deleting and planting viruses.
It also concerns copying programs illegally which is more commonly known as software piracy.

The Computer Misuse Act covers three main areas,
  • Unauthorised access to computer material.
  • Unauthorised access to a computer system with intent to commit or facilitate a crime.
  • Unauthorised modification of computer material.

It was introduced to prevent viruses, copyright infringements, hacking, using computer data for blackmail or fraud and the illegal deleting of computer data.

The impact of Computer Misuse Act within the interactive media industry

An example of a Computer misuse act case in relation to interactive media was when contract programmer allegedly deleted software development files to prolong his contract.
Programs ran automatically in the background to delete the software development team’s work.
I found the article online about Computer Misuse Act 1990 cases.

Here is a screen-shot of the case report that clearly shows how the computer misuse act was breached within interactive media. The contract programmer was in breach of the computer misuse act because he gained unauthorised access to a computer and set up a program that deleted computer files.
Computers are particularly open to abuse these days because more and more people are becoming computer literate and are able to hack into other peoples files.

I found a quote online at

that backs up this opinion it states how there is an increase of people using computers for illegal purpose's

as more and more people are becoming computer literate there has been an increase of individuals and groups such as organised gangs of hackers. The Computer Misuse Act has implications Penalties for breaches can be severe”.

Data protection act

It provides individuals with important rights including the right to find out what personal information is held about them.
Anyone who processes personal information must comply with eight data collection principles that state that information must be;

  • fairly and lawfully processed
  • processed for specified purposes
  • accurate and up to date
  • not kept for longer than is necessary
  • processed in line with individuals rights
  • secure
  • not processed out the European economic area without adequate protection.
The impact of Data Protection Act within the interactive media industry

An example of the data protection act in relation to the Interactive Media industry are websites that handle personal data, such websites include Amazon or which require you to sign up to buy things, and put in personal data such as your full name and address so that whatever you order can be delivered to your house.

For example if you were commissioned to create a system for a user who would be required to handle personal data about who uses the system ( like the above example that handles personal data such as name, address and credit card details) you as either a designer or programmer would have to ensure that personal data about the users would not be accessible by the public, they would also need to let the users know how there data would be handled, this is called a privacy statement
If you failed to do this you would be in breach of the Data protection act and could be liable to prosecution.

I found an extract from an online article about data protection for websites that includes information of ways in which you can ensure your user their data on your website is safe,
here is an extract from that article;

information is often included as part of a privacy notice or statement. Your
privacy notice should describe what you do and don't do with the personal
information, as well as telling individuals about their rights and how to exercise
them. For example, individuals have a right to be told if personal information about
them is being processed, and to have a copy of this information. You should also tell
them how to go about doing this. The privacy statement must include the physical
address of the website operator, unless this is clearly available on the site”


Accessibility in interactive media refers to how accessible the interactive media is for everyone including people with certain disabilities. Some disabilities can make it harder for a person to access interactive media these include vision impairments, hearing impairments and dyslexia.
In terms of Interactive Media accessibility relates to a user group that cannot use interactive media properly. This is because the person needs to read words, see pictures or icons, and hear sound in order to use Interactive Media.
This means that interactive media should be designed so that it is accessible as much as possible, to people with vision impairment, hearing impairment and dyslexia.

What is the impact of accessibility within the interactive media industry?
Vision impaired users in general need bigger text in a plain font, with enough contrast between the colour of the text and the colour of the background, this can also include people who suffer from colour blindness and may not be able to distinguish between certain colours such as red and green. Hearing impaired people may not be able to understand sounds or speech properly. To make Interactive Media accessible to hearing impaired users the text should be given alongside any important audio information. This could mean displaying the text that is being spoken along with the audio track, or by including subtitles when video is being used.
Dyslexic people are affected by many of the same things that affect vision impaired users. This means taking similar steps as you would have to take with vision impaired users e.g. bigger text in a plain font, with enough contrast between the colour of the text and the colour of the background.

 This is an example of a site that would be considered as not accessible to a person with vision impairment because of the colours used (that would particularly effect people with colour blindness as the reds and greens may be confusing to them) the colours used may also create vibrating boundaries making it disturbing for anyone to look at let alone people with vision impairments.
I found a quote online that backs up my opinion about how websites using the wrong colours may effect colour blind people.
I found the quote at
it states that;

For colorblind individuals, the wrong color combinations on a website such as red and green can make navigation and interaction impossible”.

Another issue for this particular website is there is not enough contrast between the text and the background the and size of the text may not be easy or may even be impossible for people with vision impairments to read.
I found a quote online at
that backs up my opinion about how colour contrast and size of text can make websites impossible to read for visually impaired people.

To make your site more accessible, focus on producing text, which is clear and therefore more easily read, make sure the text is large and clear with enough contrast between the background, and you should improve readability for all”.

When creating a piece of interactive media, particularly a website it is important to take accessibility into consideration, making sure the website you create is accessible to as many people as possible will ensure you get many visitors to your website and more importantly that they return to your website.


Sub contracting

In the interactive media industry if somebody wants you to do a job a contract needs to be written up explaining the job that has to be done, the deadline or when it has to be done by and more importantly how and when your going to be paid. You will have to meet the deadlines and the client will have to pay whatever you agreed. If this could not be settled, and for some reason the client didn't pay you, because you have a contract you could take them to court. There are also contracts within the interactive media industry that are called release forms, if you had footage of a person within some interactive media they would have to sign a contract agreeing to the footage of them being used, this contract would state how the footage would and would not be used.

Outsourcing refers to the process of contracting to a third party. For example if a business had to give a work contract to somebody outside of the company or another company. If this was the case the two company's may enter a contractual agreement involving the exchange of payment and services.

Working to a brief

A lot of work in the interactive media industries, especially in the case of small to medium size companies and freelancers, is done to a brief for a client. Common types of brief in interactive media would include, for example, a website or artwork for a computer game.
Working to a brief in the interactive media industry requires skills including business skills in negotiating a brief, the creative ability to come up with ideas to work to that brief and the technical skills to but those creative ideas into action.


The penalties of breaking a contract can include fines, suspension or loss of job (if working for a company) or even prison if it could lead to criminal damage or breaking of any of the acts such as the computer misuse act or the data protection act.

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