Lynda Relph-Knight

 Linda Relph-Knight, Editor, Design Week

ACID realised early on that it was important to use every available platform to communicate its message across the different industry sectors it represents and in order to do this we decided that relationships needed to be established with leading publications who would publicly support the organisation’s aims and objectives. Linda Relph Knight was the first editor to put the full weight of Design Week behind ACID. It is hard to believe that ACID is only ten years old, such has been its impact in combating copyright theft.  Its ceaseless campaigns to this end have heightened awareness across the business community, particularly within retail, to an extent that we see far fewer rip-off designs on the market. By appealing to the better nature of top retailers, for example, it has helped to set a standard on the high street.  Where copyright infringements do occur, designers at the smaller end of the scale are better informed, thanks, in part, to ACID’s efforts, and more confident about taking on the big company. Most importantly, it has advised younger designers, so often preyed upon in the past by unscrupulous visitors to graduate shows in search of cashing in on their ideas. By raising their awareness of the value of their designs and their legal rights regarding them, it has helped to change the perceptions of a whole generation of designers – and boost their self-confidence in the process. This is particularly the case with 3D design, when designers set up as sole traders batch-produce their wares as a way of kick-starting their careers and establishing their brand. In the past, even reputable retailers have been guilty of ‘borrowing’ the ideas for mass-production as own-brand lines. But the same scenario can occur with graphics, printed textiles and digital design.  The importance of protecting intellectual property rights can’t be overstressed. Not only can sole-traders protect their ideas from pillaging bigger businesses, designers working more commercially can earn extra cash by controlling the assignment of copyright to the client and have a say in how their designs are used – a vital part of building and protecting your reputation. If, for example, the contract states that the use of a particular image is limited to packaging for a project, the client can’t use it in, say, advertising or other promotions unless the designer agrees to extend the assignment, invariably for an additional fee. Of course, it isn’t always easy to say no to a client. A designer has to be brave to do that. But an awareness of your rights gives you a head start in negotiating favourable terms. And it cuts both ways.  Having a clear understanding from the outset, expressed in the contract, is likely to foster mutual respect between client and designer and this inevitably leads to better work being produced. There are instances where reason doesn’t prevail and litigation ensues. This is rarely desirable, for though ACID interventions have shown that David can still beat Goliath in court if right is on his side, the time and cost involved in legal action isn’t always fully compensated for in the settlement. The inclination of creative people is to create new things and courtroom experiences can be stifling. It is far better to try to mediate with the offending party than to take the case to its conclusion and ACID has had considerable success with this.  As global markets continue to grow, intellectual property rights are set to become an even bigger issue. Being aware of them is half the battle for designers, but having a champion like ACID is set to ease the pain! 

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