Photo by Glenn Carstens-Peters on Unsplash

In the digital space where creators are looking to capitalize on the latest trends and piggyback off other user successes, the idea of anyone owning their creative content has become lost. Instead, photos, videos, memes and sounds get quickly reused and repurposed, and demands for credit get lost in the barrage of comments.

But this system shortchanges creators, particularly those looking to build a viable consulting, design, writing or music career off of their unique content. In a recent opinion piece in Rolling Stone, University of Phoenix alumna Marla Matime discussed how she first felt short changed when she took on too much work for group projects while classmates hung back and received equal credit. Attending an online program that allowed her flexibility to finish her bachelor’s degree in communication on her own schedule was a great decision and allowed her to continue working full time, she wrote. 

But carrying group project loads while others shared the credit left her feeling dejected. “Sometimes one or two people out of the four or five would be responsible enough to carry the group,” Matime wrote. “I was always one of the students who would carry the group or help push the team to the finish line.”

Creatives Need Credit

After graduating from University of Phoenix with a Bachelor of Science in Communications, Matime took on contractual and freelance work, building her reputation as a writer and content producer but also recognizing that she did not always receive credit for her work. She shared in Rolling Stone that she quickly became overly dependent on positive comments and feedback. Suddenly, it was no longer about the work at all but about chasing accolades. “Relationships became transactional rather than transformational,” Matime wrote. “I began to compare myself based on comments made from higher-ups, and I could feel the level of excellence that I held myself to declining.”

Receiving proper credit for one’s work is a way to secure an identity as a unique artist and creator and to differentiate oneself from the many others crowding the online space. Matime pointed to a number of tactics that artists and creatives can use to ensure their work belongs to them, cannot be copied and receives credit with a legal basis.

Taking Steps to Ensure Creative Control

In the article, University of Phoenix alumna Matime discussed several avenues for creatives to secure credit for their work. These included seeking copyright protection, submitting for patents and trademarks as applicable, and insisting on photo credits.


Those with creative content including scripts, songs, artwork and photos can visit the website for the U.S. Copyright Office and submit up to 10 unpublished works per application. Applying for a patent or trademark is a more involved process, Matime wrote, and one that is more often associated with a business idea or logo. It can be helpful to get a lawyer involved, she explained, “to take the guesswork out of the process.” Finally, Matime noted that photographers can publish their photos royalty-free using services like Pexels, Shutterstock and Canva. By maintaining the photos through a legitimate photo-sharing site, they maintain some creative control and can ensure that their name will typically accompany use.

Pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Communication at University of Phoenix

The Bachelor of Science in Communication degree program that Matime completed with University of Phoenix is one of several undergraduate business degree programs that the University offers. There are also bachelor’s degree programs in business administration, business management and accounting. The communication degree prepares graduates like Matime to pursue a career in writing, reporting, public relations or communications that can be applicable in nearly any industry or business setting. Regardless of where graduates eventually choose to pursue their communications or public relations career, they will learn how to develop strategies and plans and to evaluate the effectiveness of those tactics in driving results.

About University of Phoenix

University of Phoenix is committed to advancing the educational goals of adult and nontraditional learners and to helping students navigate the career options and degree programs that best suit their interests. The University’s degree programs are aligned with numerous in-demand career paths including in computer software, nursing and business, and they provide flexible start dates, online classes, and numerous scholarship opportunities to make it possible for anyone to earn the degree they need to get ahead. In addition, the University of Phoenix’s Career Services for Life® commitment to active students and graduates provides the resources needed to be competitive in the workforce for no additional charge. These services include resume and interview support, career guidance, education and networking opportunities. For more information, visit