Creative Barcode: A Potential Solution for Freelancers

Creative Barcode LogoIf you’re a creative freelancers, you’ve likely found yourself in a position where you are forced to submit a work to a client, whether it’s a concept, a proof or even a completed work, without any assurances that your client won’t run off use it without paying.

Creative Barcode, however, hopes to take a little bit of the worry out of these situations. By working as an intermediary between the freelancer and the client, Creative Barcode seeks to verify creation, upload, download and, eventually, transfer of ownership.

However, Creative Barcode is not a non-repudiation service like Safe Creative or Myows, but rather is focused more on the delivery of creative works, in particular visual ones, than merely marking and preserving them.

So is Creative Barcode right for you? The answer depends on what you’re looking for.

How it Works

The big idea behind Creative Barcode is that, after becoming a member of the service, you use its software to generate barcodes that you then apply to your work work (barcodes are either jpg or png files).

You then can use the FTP space provided by Creative Barcode to upload the files and send them to your client. Clients then receives an email from you with instructions for downloading the work. After agreeing to the terms of use and entering a password (if one is chosen) they are able to download the marked work. Once the project is completed, Creative Barcode allows the freelancer to transfer ownership of the work via their system, creating an assurance for both sides.

Creative Barcode, for its part, tracks when the work is uploaded, when it is downloaded and by whom. This provides a chain of custody that makes it easy to verify where a work came from and, since the work is clearly marked, it’s easier for the client to know who owns the content. Finally, as part of agreement between freelancer and client, both sides agree to resolve disputes using the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) mediation rules. This at least has the potential to help with international legal disputes, as well as some domestic ones.

All in all, it’s a fairly simple service, but one that might provide a great deal of peace of mind to freelancers who use it.

Is Creative Barcode for You?

Creative Barcode is not a free service. The basic service costs £30 ($48) + VAT per year and provides for 5 free barcodes. Additional barcodes start at £4 each ($6.50).

Depending upon your intended use, this cost might be either insanely cheap or outrageously high. Either way, it discourages bulk use and it does mean that it isn’t for photographers who want to mark every single photo they take.

Also, since the system relies on a visual mark, namely the barcode, it’s not a good fit for musicians or writers, both of whom produce works that can’t be easily tagged (though a writer could put a barcode in a PDF).

Designers, photographers and artists who routinely have to transmit proofs and other works to clients may find that the cost per barcode is reasonable for the assurance they provide.

The problem, however, is that a lot of the features of Creative Barcode could be obtained in other ways, most of which are free. You can easily mark your own images with a watermark (the barcode itself is not special on its own), you can demand WIPO mediation in your freelance contract and there are other file loading/downloading services that let you monitor as well as password protect the files.

The point of Creative Barcode is that it streamlines that entire process and puts it into one neat workflow. You get a professional watermark, monitored upload and delivery as well as contract benefits all from the same application. Whether this is worth the money to you is completely your decision based on your situation.

Bottom Line

This isn’t meant to be a full review of the service at this time. I’m going to get with the people behind it to see about doing a full one down the road. Instead, this is meant to be a brief look at the service, what it offers and who should consider it.

Unfortunately though, as neat of an idea as it is, the market is likely going to be small. Visual artists that regularly submit works of moderate or great value to clients isn’t exactly a tiny market, but it’s not the biggest either. Factor in that there are other, free solutions to all of the problems that Creative Barcode solves and it’s easy to see that most won’t find much use for it.

Still, those who do find a use for it will likely find it a lifesaver and given the company’s excellent approach to corporate trust and cooperation, it may be an effort worth supporting regardless.

All in all, the decision is up to you but and will be based on your situation and your needs, but the idea is very interesting and it might easily find a good niche to serve.

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