“To Copy or Not to Copy” That is the Question! By: Ma. De Lourdes Mata
How do you define copyright? How do you identify if a particular material on the internet is copyright?
Merriam Webster’s definition of copyright: “the sole right to reproduce, publish, and sell a literary or artistic work.”
We all recognize this as the official copyright symbol….
The fact is, we do not see it very often. Does this mean material in the internet is free game? How often do we see the symbol on the internet?
Unfortunately, just because you do not see a copyright symbol on material you find on the internet, it DOES NOT mean it is NOT copyright protected. The internet is the place where you least see the copyright symbol, yet it is where the majority of the material IS copyright.
The copyright symbol need not appear in a work in order to be copyright protected. As a matter of fact, any material posted on the internet becomes copyright as soon as it is posted. Anything posted on the internet after March 1, 1989 is copyright protected. Anyone who posts anything on the internet should expect their work to be copied. Then of course, there may be some that do not expect the work to be copied. This first mix up takes us to implied and express licenses.
An implied license is simply that; an indirectlyexpressed permission. Indirect Expression is very vague and leaves an room for so much misinterpretation. Implied License
I posted a picture of my dog eating ice cream on Facebook. One of my friends copied the picture, took it to Sam’s Photo Lab, and walked out with a 16x20 photograph of my dog. She displayed it in her veterinary office when she redecorated. (Without asking or acknowledging me!) She should have asked me if she could use my dog’s picture. I should have assumed someone would fall in love with it and use it as they wished. See how quickly this could go back and forth? Implied License example:
An express license in not implied, but rather, it is Expressed. Had my dog picture been posted, and I would have included a note saying, “you may print picture, but only in 3x6, black & white photos” I am expressing that the picture can be reproduced without further authorization. Express license
Fair use allows for copying of internet material, without permission so long as the copying is for fair use. Fair use of copyright material
Certain materials can be copied from the internet without permission….depending on the purpose of the use. There are a few resources that may help educators determine in material they intend to copy if within the limits of fair use. Fair use
This is a four question test that you may want to ask yourself the next time you want to copy something from the internet. It may be used as a guide to help you determine whether or not you are copying within the fair use doctrine. Copyright Act of 1976
Ask yourself first: “What is the purpose and character of the use? Is the nature of the use commercial or no-commercial (nonprofit educational). Question #1
Ask yourself second: What is the nature of the copyrighted work? Is the work published, not published, fact, imaginative? Question #2
Ask yourself thirdly: What is the amount of work I am going to use? What is the proportion of the copied work and the copyrighted work? Question #3
Lastly ask yourself: What effect will my copying have on the profits of the copyright work? Will take away monetarily from the author? Question #4
There are two other guides that my help you decide whether you can or cannot copy material on the internet. Fair Use Evaluator: http://librarycopyright.net/fairuse/ Exceptions for Instructors eTool: http://librarycopyright.net/etool/ Online copyright education tools
copyright. 2011. In Merriam-Webster.com. Retrieved Aug. 31, 2011, from http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/copyright http://www.ala.org/ala/aboutala/governance/annualreport/annualreport/annualreportarch/20082009/washingtonoffice/washington.cfm http://www.uspto.gov/web/offices/dcom/olia/confu/report.htm Citations