The first issue regarding IP and Cat and Rat is the fact that Lily originally came up with the idea to do Cat and Rat from a storybook by Ed Young. This means that if we were to base the film directly on Ed Young's book, we would have to obtain permission from Young and in addition, if we wanted to make money out of this film, for argument's sake, we would be obliged to pay royalties to Young.
Fortunately, Ed Young's story is based on a traditional Chinese story called The Great Race. In order for us to not worry about whose intellectual property we are using, we have decided that we are going to base Cat and Rat more on the original story and not on Ed Young's book. This is because Ed Young may own the rights to his storybook and his "telling" of the story, but he does not own the story itself as that is public domain. One of the main reasons why Disney based a large number of their animated films on fairytales is because they are very old and thus not eligible for copyright, meaning that they are almost a free source of ideas for filmmaking. Disney own the rights to the film Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, as this is their "telling" of the film, but Snow White remains public domain.
Using this logic, we are able to create an animated film out of the story of The Great Race as this does not belong to anyone, but we will still own the rights to Cat and Rat, as well as all the designs for the characters and environments within Cat and Rat.
As we hypothetically own the rights to Cat and Rat, it is essential that we put some protection on Cat and Rat, to prohibit others from using our idea without our permission. We are not immediately considering making any amount of money out of this film as it is a student film, so perhaps Copyrighting may be too drastic. Thankfully, there is a form of very flexible IP licensing called Creative Commons. The core principles of Creative Commons are that it allows for the freedom to share information and ideas as efficiently as possible but also so others give us credit, as IP is not just about "royalties", and that others do not attempt to claim the idea for their own.
There are a number of Creative Commons licences available that have a varying levels of freedom of distribution. There are licences that are so loose that they allow other uses to not only take apart, remix and use property in their own work, but also for commercial purposes. There are also licences that allow users to take apart and use property in their own work, but for non-commercial purposes only. Then there are tighter licences that allow for sharing, but nothing else; this can be available on a Commercial or Non-Commercial basis. Another type of Creative Commons licence is a "ShareAlike", which would have some or all of the same conditions above, but state that anyone that makes use of work that has a "ShareAlike" licence must put exactly the same licence on their work as the source material.
These licences may have quite varying levels of protection; however, they all have one thing in common. They all ensure at the bare minimum that any users, that use a piece of work that is licensed with Creative Commons MUST credit the original author. I am personally happy for any work that I have done to be distributed freely, but I would like to know that I am being recognised for my work. I have actually put a CreativeCommons-Attribution-NonCommercial on my dissertation, as I am keen for people in years to come to use what I have learnt from doing my dissertation in their own work.
I am going to discuss the conditions of each Creative Commons licence with the rest of my group and then we will decide how we want our film to be shared and distributed; and then we will decide on how our film should be protected to ensure this.