Copyright Considerations for Managing a Remote Workforce

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In-house counsel and others responsible for the exchange of information throughout global organizations like T. Rowe Price know that copyright challenges are a daily occurrence in the office.  Yet, today’s remote working arrangements have put a spotlight on pre-existing copyright challenges, and the amplified reliance on technology for all communications has generated additional risks.

To begin with, consider the changes in how employees communicate and collaborate in virtual environments.

Typical water cooler conversations have migrated to chat platforms and workplace communities.  Employees may occasionally share current news articles, covers of books they’re reading or photos of home workspaces.  Similarly, in-person meetings have gone digital.  In addition to being cognizant of the limitations around reproducing and distributing copyrighted works, public performance and display rights also need to be considered in livestreamed and recorded meetings.

In an in-person meeting, employees may read a quote from a blog or share a physical photograph from a trade magazine.  However, doing either of those two things during a livestream meeting may run afoul of the copyright owner’s public performance and display right.  In video conference meetings, employees might inadvertently display copyrighted content in the background, such as a painting, sculpture and even their desktop globe.  Displaying any one of these authored works could infringe upon the rights of the copyright owner.

T. Rowe Price’s education and copyright compliance program utilizes data for more informed decision-making.    Not surprisingly, the data began to indicate that as more and more employees transitioned to work-from-home, the number of IP matters coming in also increased. Companies must get creative and consider how to stay visible with a client base who is spread out across the country or the globe to reinforce the importance of copyright compliance.

In addition to leveraging CCC’s copyright education resources and licensing, here are a few of the ways T. Rowe Price’s copyright compliance strategy has evolved to better address a remote workforce:

  • A fast-track IP blog was launched as another vehicle used to capture the business’s attention on IP issues relevant to their jobs.
  • In line with the service everywhere model, a company-wide IP instant messenger group was established, further expanding their presence on platforms utilized by the business.
  • Virtual trainings and informal discussions were formulated to discuss copyright issues facing a remote workforce.
  • Targeted outreach with clients was initiated based on downward trends identified in the data.
  • Educational materials and resources for videoconferencing were written by the global brand management team, including physical backdrops and virtual backgrounds to minimize the unintentional display of copyrighted content.

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John Zevitas

Author: John Zevitas

As a member of T. Rowe Price’s Intellectual Property & Commercial Contracts Group, John focuses his practice on trademark and copyright counseling, portfolio management, licensing, and commercial transactions. Prior to joining T. Rowe Price in July 2019, he was a Vice President and Associate General Counsel for Legg Mason & Co., LLC. John earned his J.D. from the Columbus School of Law at The Catholic University of America, and his B.A. in political science from The American University.

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