It’s mine! Mine, mine, mine ALL mine! We’re talking about the thing most sacred to all CEO’s – Intellectual Property. Today, the Bosses take a look at I.P., what it is and how you can protect your interests. Plus we dish the dirt on The VoiceMarketplace dot net who recently stole the Intellectual Property of HUNDREDS of voiceover actors without their consent! The Bosses fight back in this can’t miss, “oh no you didn’t!” episode. Get a ring-side seat as the voiceover industry takes on Voicemarketplace Dot Net.
Quick Concepts from Today’s Episode:
Don’t mess with Voice Actors – we band together and look out for each other! We’ve got each other’s backs.
Transparency about policy and procedures is a must from any company you do business with.
If you can’t find out who owns and operates an entity it’s a sign of something shady going on.
You can protect yourself from theft by Trade Marking your material.
Rob Sciglimpaglia is a practicing attorney and voice actor – you can consult or hire him if you need legal assistance with your business.
Everything on the internet is owned by the person who created it.
You can resolve many brand cross-overs or an accidental theft with a polite phone call or email – open the lines of communication to resolve potential problems.
A Cease and Desist letter is a powerful and necessary business tool.
Erroneous information can sit on the web for a very long time and damage your reputation.
Google yourself on a regular basis to see what info about you is out there.
Referenced in this Episode
Direct links to things we brought up ++
For legal help for VO Issues contact Robert Sciglimpaglia
Announcer: Today’s voice over talent is more than just a pretty voice. Today’s voiceover talent has to be a boss, a VO BOSS. Set yourself up with business owner strategies and success with you host Anne Ganguzza along with some of the strongest voices in our industry. Rock your business like a boss, a VO BOSS.
Anne: Welcome, everybody, to the VO BOSS podcast. I’m your host, Anne Ganguzza, along with my beautiful cohost, Gabby Nistico. Hey, Gabby.
Anne: Gabby, there was a very interesting event that took place this past week, and it got me thinking about, like, what rights do I have about what information is spread on the Internet about me? For example my, my profile, my biography, my headshot? What, you know, intellectual property, Gabby? I think we should talk about it.
Gabby: I have been bursting at the seams to talk about this all week. It’s hard too with a weekly podcast for us to be, you know, topical, but we try. We do a pretty good job I think. This was one that got my, got my knickers in a twist, so [laughs]
Gabby: And a lot of other people.
Anne: Yeah, me too, me too for sure.
Gabby: There is a, a new website that, uh I don’t know, it might be a pay-to-play, it might just be an online marketplace. It’s hard to say at this point because no one knows what the hell it is. And it came up out of nowhere, voicemarketplace.com and .net. Long and short is, they took it upon themselves to scrape information from hundreds and hundreds of voice actors without any of us knowing about it, and without our consent.
Anne: I woke up, and boom, there I was.
Gabby: We were, we were actually on a Zoom call together. And I was like, holy crap. And I searched my name and your name, and we were both there, and our headshots were there, and our demos were there, and —
Anne: And incorrect information.
Gabby: Oh yeah, like crazy, weird stuff, and then incorrect union status. And this was a fun one: I heard from some of the other actors that their phone numbers and their home addresses —
Gabby: — were being posted.
Gabby: There’s some speculation running around, but no one knows exactly who owns this website, who’s responsible for it, where it’s coming from, yeah.
Anne: It, you know what it reminds me of, Gabby, [laughs] you know, when you go to a company website, and you can’t find out any information, and then you try to use all the typical tools to find out, who do I contact, who put, who put, who had the audacity to put this information without my permission? And you go to look at the contact me, and there really is no information.
Anne: And it just reeks of something shady going on, if you ask me.
Gabby: It does, and usually we see this a lot with foreign entities, right, things that are overseas and, and other countries. And this was really strange because we are fairly certain it’s a domestic individual behind it. However we think that their staff and some of the people they’re employing must be overseas because their English language skills are not so great.
Anne: Yes, well, when you’re going to scrape that amount of information right off of, off of the web —
Gabby: Right, it’s cheaper.
Anne: Exactly. You need to be able to just put up a website quickly. Now, one of the things I’m thinking of — number one, I was infuriated because I didn’t give my permission.
Anne: And a lot of people on the forums – well, maybe not a lot, but there were some people who were like, “hey, what is wrong with that?” Well, I got a lot to say about that, and I know you do too, Gabby. But number one, I didn’t give permission, and I certainly don’t want my, my uh profile, my name, my photograph being used for someone else’s SEO purposes. That’s number one.
Gabby: Clearly it stands to reason that the motivation behind this was SEO and web presence and capitalizing on the names of all of these relatively well-known, successful voice actors.
Anne: Yes. And then, you know, one questions, “well, what happens next?”
Anne: heh, what happens next? Why, for what reason? Number one because the site, it wasn’t evident there was going to be any commission to be made or, you know, whether it was going to be a fee. I do believe that information was being collected and will ultimately later on be used not in a good way. [laughs]
Anne: Not in a good way.
Gabby: The first piece to this is the intellectual property piece as a whole, and what it is and how that all works.
Gabby: Second piece that I’d love to address is the pro and con, if you will. That’s part two and three really of why this was such a big deal. Because some people are sort of going, “oh, come on, it’s like free publicity. It’s a free way to get jobs.” And the rest of us are going “no, no, no, no, no.”
Anne: Yeah, no. So let’s talk about what intellectual property really is anyway.
Anne: My understanding is that it is anything creative that I come up with, an idea, a concept, something that, that I consider to be mine. [laughs]
Gabby: A slogan, a logo, a, an image, a character. It covers a lot of contents.
Anne: Text. Writing.
Anne: Yeah, absolutely.
Gabby: It really, really does. It covers this very wide swath of the creative industries. Do bear in mind, guys, we are not attorneys, right? Rob Sciglimpaglia isn’t here with us today. That’s ok. [laughs]
Anne: Rob Sciglimpaglia, yeah.
Gabby: Anne and I have actually consulted with him on this very topic.
Gabby: And we did bring him into this. Yeah, this is, this is our understanding of intellectual property. And I’m always saying it, and I know Anne’s always saying it, everything on the Internet is owned by someone else. Everything.
Anne: Well, yeah, I mean, Gabby, this is why we can’t just go and Google for images and then take images. I know that this was brought up in the forums. You can’t just steal a picture on the Internet and claim it as yours.
Anne: You will get a cease and desist.
Gabby: Or a fine. I actually had to pay a fine once.
Anne: Gabby, this has been going on like since the evolution of the Internet, right?
Gabby: Before that.
Anne: When the web came out. Right? Exactly.
Gabby: Before that.
Anne: So much more, I think, mainstream. I think we find out so much more, and it behooves us to educate ourselves on what is intellectual property, what we can and cannot do.
Gabby: It does, and it really, it goes all the way back to pre-Internet and to just pre-television. It goes back to audio, to the music industry. Right?
Gabby: This is why ASCAP and BMI exist, because those two companies act as a licensure agency for recording artists to have their content distributed and used in other areas. This is why, guys, you can’t just take a musical artist’s song and throw it up on YouTube and not get flagged.
Anne: And why every piece of music and whatnot has to be licensed in your demos.
Gabby: Yeah, there is so much involved in this, but, but at the end of the day, it really is stopping to realize that creative content, every piece of creative content you encounter is owned by —
Anne: The creator.
Gabby: And that person who created it has every right to seek out compensation for its use. Now you and I too are no strangers to the trademarking process and how that works.
Anne: Oh no. I’m in the process right now of getting two new trademarks, just because. It’s one of those things that you need to protect. You know, we have worked so hard on VO BOSS alone, on the brand, on the logos, on the content. And you know, we’re going to protect ourselves. We have to.
Gabby: Let’s explain exactly how the trademark does that.
Anne: Well, that will allow us the rights to — well, first of all, the trademark, um I’m — we’re doing a trademark of the VO BOSS name. So there is two separate trademark — if you want to trademark your logo, that’s a separate process. You do file with the government, and that assures you that um your name, your domain name, and any likeness to it is owned by you, and if there are any other entities out there that have a name similar, or somehow encroach on your brand, you have the right to be able to ask them to cease and desist legally, legally.
Gabby: And if they refuse, you can sue them for damages.
Gabby: So I’ve had voiceover vixen trademark for quite some time. Years ago prior to it being trademarked, I had all kinds of instances where people would use it — like, I’ve seen it on Instagram in reference to other voice actresses. Um I had one time where someone was putting together a promotional product of voice actors, and they wanted to separate, you know, the men and the women, and they wanted to call the females the voiceover vixens, plural. Literally I had to beg. I was like, “please don’t do that.”
Anne: Oh yeah.
Gabby: So right about that time is when I went ahead and I got the trademark. It is a costly process.
Anne: It is. It is not cheap. I will tell you, I went through my own, my own issues with VO Peeps. As a matter of fact, I had built the VO Peeps brand but did not think at the time — VO Peeps is about 10 years old, close to 10 years now — and did not think to do anything to trademark it. You know, it is my name, it’s cool, nobody will take it. In the meantime, I went to go create a Facebook group. What could have been a complete disaster ended up being a really great relationship with Ted McAleer who actually had a Facebook community group that he called VO Peeps. And not knowing him at all at the time, I sent him an email, and I said “oh, please, pretty please. I’ve had this group for a couple of years now, and I’ve really worked hard to develop. Do you think it’s possible that you could rename your group?” And he said, “oh, you know what? I’ll tell you what.” He goes, uh, “you have it. You take the name, and um can I co-administer with you?” I said, “oh my God, that would be great.” So for however many years we’ve had this group, at least seven years, Ted McAleer has been my co, my co-admin on that site because he originally started it and was, was gracious enough to allow me to have it because I had already done so much work on my brand. Now that doesn’t typically happen.
Gabby: Hey, quick, quick nod to Ted because that’s a class act right there. Most people would not do that.
Anne: Total class act. Nobody does that.
Gabby: Right? And also kudos to you because that is — to me, that story right there is just the power of our industry and how wonderful, for the most part —
Gabby: — the people in our business are, that you can usually work out things like that, that a simple inquiry that just opening up lines of communication, and everything can be fixed, and a handshake, and look how blissfully wonderful that turned out to be.
Anne: And now we’ve got, now we’ve got people in our industry that we’ve not really seen before. Right? People that are out there trying to make a buck off of —
Anne: — the voiceover industry and the online specifically too right? I mean, just —
Gabby: We, we — oh, there’s no doubt about it. There’s a predatory group now —
Gabby: — who sees our industry as a way to make money. They don’t care about anything else. They don’t care about the artistry, the friendships, upholding standards, none of it. We could also say, well, that’s where everyone else bands together, right, and we, we look out for one another.
Anne: Oh absolutely. I mean, look at the response, Gabby, that happened this week. I mean, everybody banded together.
Gabby: Oh my gosh.
Anne: And shared, and shared post after post. Like “hey, go check it out. Make sure that you’re not on this list, or you’re not on this page.” And —
Gabby: Doug Turkel, God bless him, our resident watchdog.
Anne: He is, he so is a watchdog. Love him.
Gabby: Doug brought it to my attention and bunch of other people’s attention. And then what I was amazed by was the number of people who were going to this website, and one person would then immediately tag 10 people and go, “oh my gosh —
Anne: Oh yeah, it was great.
Gabby: You guys are here.” And then those people would go and tag 10 more, and man, it spread like wildfire.
Anne: It sure did.
Gabby: Like we were on it.
Anne: And everybody shared the post, and I shared the post in my group, and then my group, you know, tagged other people. “Hey, I saw you on there. Here’s what you, here’s what you do,” and a lot of people said, “well, I asked to be removed, and I was removed.” Some people I think, some people were waiting to see what was going to happen.
Gabby: Maybe some people still are.
Anne: [laughs] Exactly.
Gabby: There is something to be said for the company at play here. They did go ahead, and they honored cease and desist and removal notifications very, very quickly. They took everyone’s information down who requested that it be taken down fast. However, there is one thing I do want to make clear in this episode for folks is that this website, this voicemarketplace.com, .net, even though they have complied very quickly, they are scraping at a rate that is very —
Anne: Oh my gosh, yes. It’s going to be [laughs] it’s probably the website has already put on another few pages.
Gabby: The thing that I want everybody to be aware of right now on this is just because you went to the site and searched for yourself yesterday, and you weren’t there, doesn’t mean you won’t be there tomorrow.
Anne: Gabby, let’s talk about pros and cons if you’re on that site. First of all I don’t see any pros right now at all. It’s not buying me SEO, and I’m certainly not getting any gigs from it. And all of the unsuspecting people, maybe two or three months now that weren’t a part of this initial shock and sharing of information, are not going to know that maybe that’s a bad thing. And ultimately, that’s what you want to try to just keep your eye out because that’s how the site’s going to grow. That’s how the site’s going to make money or maybe not.
Gabby: Well, there’s too many unknowns right now. So ok, con is the lack of transparency.
Gabby: We don’t know who’s running it. We don’t know how the site is going to operate, meaning right now, sure, “oh, we’re just, we’re just putting you up there and doing this really nice thing.” No, you’re not. At what point do you start charging? There’s going to be a fee at some point in time. And what I’ve seen in other industries, and I know you have too, Anne, and this gets really scary, are the ones who will do something like this, scrape a profile, put you up there, and then they send an email notice, and they go, “oh, if you want to be removed, just tell us,” but if you don’t reply to that email, or you miss that email, you have basically, it’s, it’s permission by omission.
Gabby: And then you get a bill. And they can do that. They can try to hustle. They can try to send you a bill then for services rendered. “Oh, well we put you up on this website. We gave you the option to take it down. You just didn’t reply, so now here you go. Here’s your bill for $200 for services.”
Anne: Here’s the deal. As a matter of fact, I got an email that morning, I believe, when I did a search in my email box, I got an email from the organization that morning. No, I never signed up for email.
Gabby: I didn’t.
Anne: I of course went and unsubscribed, but that was illegal right there, the fact that — well, maybe it wasn’t illegal here in the United States yet, but it certainly is something that is illegal in other parts of the — you know —
Gabby: Of the world.
Anne: — other parts of the world.
Gabby: When a website, any entity, doesn’t matter, website or otherwise, has done this, and they have taken your information and reposted it without you knowing about it, you don’t know if you’re being misrepresented. And in many of these profiles, that’s what was happening.
Gabby: We were all being largely misrepresented. There was incorrect information, wrong status in the union, incorrect status regarding representation, regarding um studio components. That could get us as the actors into a lot of trouble.
Anne: And also it could sit there on the Internet, right, if you’re not removed, and that erroneous information stays. It then becomes part of the ethers and part of the search engine.
Gabby: In the case of union talent, a union talent really can’t participate in a site like that.
And a union talent certainly has to identify themselves as a union talent. If their status is incorrect, the union can find fault with them for that.
Gabby: There’s, there’s a lot of potential, long-term repercussions for the talent, especially the ones who don’t even know about it.
Anne: Existing on a site like that. Correct. There’s so many slick ways that people can kind of get around all of this. And I, I think I just want our listeners to know that you need to take proactive steps to, to make sure that you don’t have things like this happen to you.
Gabby: How often do you Google yourself, Anne? [laughs]
Anne: Oh, all the time.
Anne: I’m always telling people to Google themselves. You know —
Gabby: It sounds dirty, I’m sorry.
Anne: It does. Google yourself incessantly.
Gabby: Google yourself, people. It’s ok.
Anne: Incessantly. You must.
Gabby: Be a modern, be a modern individual and accept it. Just, you know, stand up proudly and declare that you Google yourself.
Anne: Absolutely. I’m always telling people to do that. Is there a pro, Gabby? Is there a pro?
Gabby: No. [laughs]
Anne: Exactly. I’m going to agree with you there. There really is no pro unless we find out more information. I mean, first of all, the fact that we were put on there without our consent and our knowledge, it’s just, that’s not transparent at all. And I choose not to deal with any company, any business that is not transparent —
Gabby: Of course.
Anne: — in their operations.
Gabby: Here’s the thing. I will, I will play the devil’s advocate, and I will represent the group of people that were on social media kind of, sort of defending this, saying, “I don’t see the big deal here, guys. This is like, you know, you could get work. This is free publicity. Like why wouldn’t you want this? Why wouldn’t you want –”
Anne: Yeah, that’s assuming that a business has your interests at heart.
Anne: And right now, I don’t believe that the way that you got yourself on that site had your best interests at heart.
Anne: And that just says so much to me. I don’t want to find out what other loopholes there are. I really don’t. I didn’t give permission, boom. Take me off. If you don’t take me off, I will take action.
Gabby: As a smart business owner, right, you cannot view any entity whose policies are unclear, where there’s no, again, information regarding how jobs are coming in, what the commission percentage is, if there is one, how client and voice actor will communicate — how can we assume that this will equal work? For all I know this is another site that’s just going to take this massive, gigantic percentage of the job and retain it for themselves.
Anne: Well, exactly. I mean —
Gabby: You know, it could be like a managed job. We, we don’t know.
Gabby: So unless I’m reading assured that, “hey, if a client finds you on this website, they’re going to be able to come directly to you to negotiate the job,” yeah, I want no part of it. It is very possible that this was one big stunt to get everyone riled up and intentionally to get us talking.
Anne: Well, and we even created a podcast.
Gabby: Yes. And that’s the problem.
Gabby: These shady practices can sometimes lead to a company in a weird way getting exactly what it is —
Anne: What they want.
Gabby: — they wanted. These things are popping up every single day right now.
Gabby: Every day, I have multiple emails in my inbox from new marketplace type pay-to-play —
Anne: Me too, all the time.
Gabby: They’re not going anywhere, and there’s so many of them popping up that we have got to be smarter about who we’re choosing to do business with. In many cases, I’m a big fan of the sit back and watch model.
Anne: Oh yeah.
Gabby: Just watch and just observe.
Anne: See what happens.
Gabby: Exactly. Just wait. Don’t, don’t like jump on it and start spending money or start engaging. Watch. Investigate.
Anne: Be aware of what’s happening. This is your business. This is you. This is your creative license, your, you know, intellectual property, and you need to, to protect it. The more aware you are, and the more educated you are, I think the better, and the more that you can protect yourself and your business when that time comes.
Gabby: We just have to see where the chips fall, right? Like, there, there’s not enough market to sustain all of these companies that are popping up. We have to give it time. We have to see who’s going to lead, and who’s going to fall to the wayside. I’d rather wait and work with a leader.
Anne: That’s a good point, Gabby, that you bring up. I think it’s not just in our industry either. It’s, it’s every industry, it’s the, it’s this explosion of digital. Explosion of digital, you know, everybody and their brother is trying to figure out how to take the best advantage of that, and you know, in a sea of what I like to think of everybody being, you know, all good, and pure, and you know, nice, no. It’s not always like that. I think we’re starting to see that, you know, as people get more, I guess, savvy, digital savvy, we’re going to be exposed to these types of companies that will just come and exploit you and your creative and intellectual property. Gabby, good episode. Wow. And um a lot stuff, a lot of stuff that we got fired up over, but I think it’s a good kind of fired up because —
Gabby: It is.
Anne: — this type of fired up leads to us being more educated, and when we’re more educated, we make smarter business decisions. I’d like to give a big shout out to one of our really awesome business decisions, and that was to have ipDTL sponsor us for this podcast. Do love ipDTL. And you guys can find out more at ipdtl.com.
Gabby: Yes. They are indeed a trusted partner for us, and of course please make sure to check out all the ways you can bring more BOSS into your life, starting with our website, all of our marketing products and services to help you be a better business owner, and to help you be a better BOSS. That’s what we’re all about. And of course, all the ways you can access the podcast. We’ve got Google Play and iTunes and Stitcher and —
Gabby: We’re everywhere. Spotify, yeah.
Anne: You can even hear us on Alexa now. [laughs] All sorts of fun there.
Anne: All right, guys. You have a kick-butt week and stay protected. Oh, that sounded wrong. [laughs]
Announcer: Join us next week for another edition of VO BOSS with your hosts Anne Ganguzza and Gabby Nistico. All rights reserved, Anne Ganguzza Voice Talent in association with Three Moon Media. Redistribution with permission. Coast-to-coast connectivity via ipDTL.