Commissioned Work or Commissioned Creative Vision?

Creative ownership has always been a controversial issue. Demarcation lines have been difficult to draw with the coming of the information or digital age. As far as WordPress themes go, a piece of work that emanates from the WordPress author, known as the creator or artist, and transferred to the recipient often identified as client, becomes an arduous task because the artist is oftentimes unable to remove or distance himself from the work of “art” even if it has long left his hands.

For example, a WordPress developer or professional, commissioned to work on a project and whose work has been accepted by the client has intrinsically turned over all rights to his design and has received remuneration for it. In essence, the client now owns the work. However, the designer is still credited to the public eye and both are at the mercy of the terms and stipulations of the legal contract between them.

The coming of the internet/digital age has birthed governing rules such as Creative Commons or GPL where artists openly share the rights to their work to the public under specific licenses or terms of use thus complicating further the very delineations that are supposed to protect the interest of the artist. But where do you draw the line? In the eyes of the WordPress author, the output can be treated as artistic and creative output while to the client, the full rights to the use of the output, specifically, the WordPress theme created, belong to the latter once money is exchanged.

Discussions continue to be controversial. Schools train and teach multi media students how to treat their work and how to avoid exploitation or unjust use of their artistic output. But this is not so in the “real world” marketplace where copying is a “generally accepted” practice. It is not uncommon for a best-selling WordPress theme to birth clones and spin-offs of some sort in a matter of days. How do we address the idealism of upcoming authors and developers who are scared that their designs might get ripped off? The exposure and professional experience of seasoned web developers have given them the wisdom and resilience to cope with these real world ripoff concerns. But this should not discourage those who are can add to the pool of creativity because of fear.

Thankfully, there are many mentors within the WordPress community who are willing to give back to the community and pay it forward to those who are just starting. The dialog is also always ongoing. This is perhaps what makes the whole WordPress community strong and what makes its members continue to thrive.

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