Infringement In Voiceovers
The terms “Cease and Desist” and “copyright infringement” are terms every voiceover talent should be aware of.
A “Cease and Desist” can be served two ways – in the form of a letter or a an order issued by a judge in, yes, a letter. This letter usually comes with a threat of legal against against the recipient if the recipient does not stop from doing a specified action or refrain from doing it in the future. The cease and desist order is usually when the activity has been determined to be illegal.
According to LawDepot, “copyright infringement” is a violation of the rights granted to the holder of a copyright. A copyright holder has the following exclusive rights: to produce and sell copies of the original work, to create derivative works (works based on the original), to display or perform the work publicly, to sell or assign the above rights to others. When individuals or organizations do any of the above without the permission of the copyright holder, they are committing copyright infringement.
One may take it for granted or think that it may not be that big of a deal but it is. Consider someone ‘borrowing’ your stuff without asking for your permission, or someone using your name for their own gain without letting you know or seeking your approval. Not a pleasant thought, is it?
Fraud and piracy is abound especially on the internet where it is easy to claim someone’s work as your own but being a part of the voiceover industry, it is our professional obligation to protect each other’s copyrights. Ignorantia legis neminem excusat or “ignorance of law excuses no one” is exactly what the phrase says – sure, you may not know someone else owns it but the original creator or company will not care – they can come after you and the consequences can be dire. Do your research before you use a brand name or a music track, keep yourself informed, consult with the appropriate legal body if need be. More often than not, you will need to obtain permission from the original creator or copyright holder before using it. Not obtaining their permission will warrant you a cease and desist order, and you will most likely be made to pay a fee along with royalties. In the extreme, you’d have a legal case filed against you and you’ll be made to pay for damages.
Very common here is voiceover work you have recorded for a client. Most of the time, they own copyright of it, it may be your voice but they paid for the product and it is theirs. Clarify with them if you can use it as a demo or something you can post on your website before actually doing so. In this business, it is almost as if observing common courtesy.