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Copyright Basics by TALA & Spacetaker


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Presentation for Spacetaker Copyright Workshop (7/22/09) by Texas Accountants and Lawyers for the Arts (TALA) representative Erin Rodgers covering copyright, registration, and creative commons topics.

Presentation for Spacetaker Copyright Workshop (7/22/09) by Texas Accountants and Lawyers for the Arts (TALA) representative Erin Rodgers covering copyright, registration, and creative commons topics.

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  • 1. Copyright Basics Registration, Use, and Infringement Care of
  • 2. What is a copyright?
    • A bundle of six different rights
      • Right to reproduce
      • Right to make derivative works
      • Right to distribute copies to the public
      • Right to public display
      • Right to public performance
      • Right to perform via digital audio transmission
  • 3. What can you copyright?
    • “Original works of authorship”
      • Original: some creativity was required
        • Ideas may not be copyrighted
        • Your version of an idea may be copyrighted
      • Authorship: Any published or unpublished literary, artistic, dramatic, or musical work
  • 4. Who owns a copyright?
    • The artist/artists
      • “ joint work” – both artists’ contributions must be individually copyrightable, and both must have intended it to be a joint work.
    • The contract holder
      • You can transfer one or all of your rights to someone via contract
    • “ Work made for hire”
      • Works made in an employment relationship – NOT necessarily commissions
  • 5. When is a work copyrighted?
    • As soon as it is “fixed in a tangible medium”
      • You own the copyright as soon as you paint, sculpt, write, or record something subject to protection
      • Just write “copyright 2009 (your name)”
      • The “poor man’s copyright” is a myth
  • 6. Then why should I register?
    • You cannot make an infringement claim without registration
      • If someone uses your work and you have registered it, you are entitled to statutory damages.
    • Someone wishing to use your work will be able to find you
      • This could mean more money for you
    • It’s the easiest form of intellectual property to protect
      • Compared to patents and trademarks, copyrights are cheap, easy to obtain, and last much longer
  • 7. How do I register?
    • All copyright may now be done online at
    • Filing costs $35 per application, if filed online
    • If you have any doubts, call TALA or an entertainment attorney
  • 8. How long does a copyright last?
    • A copyright now lasts for the life of the author plus 70 years
      • Intellectual property rights may be passed down to heirs in a will
    • A work-made-for-hire lasts 95 years
    • This is pursuant to the 1976 copyright act: earlier works have different protection periods
  • 9. Using someone else’s work
    • Can be used for free if:
      • The work is in the public domain
      • It falls under the fair use exception
    • Otherwise, you need permission
      • This can be accomplished through a license
      • The cost of the license will vary based on your use and your relationship with the copyright owner
  • 10. Derivative Works
    • Definition: “a derivative work is a work based upon one or more preexisting works, such as a translation, musical arrangement, dramatization, motion picture version…art reproduction…or any other form in which a work may be recast, transformed, or adapted.”
  • 11. Derivative Works
    • Your copyright in a derivative work extends only to the material you added
      • Your addition must be different enough from the original, or contain a substantial enough amount of new material, to be considered a new work
      • Your derivative work does not effect the copyright for the underlying work in any way
      • Lee case: a store owner cut up greeting card art and mounted it on coasters; not considered derivative work because there was no original contribution
  • 12. Fair Use
    • Four factors used
      • Purpose and character of the use (commerical v. educational/non-profit)
      • The nature of the copyrighted work
      • The amount of the copyrighted work used
      • The effect of the use on the market for the original work
  • 13. Fair Use
    • Some examples of uses considered Fair Use include:
      • Quotes/excerpts of works in a review or criticism
      • Parody
      • Reproduction of a part of a work by a teacher or student for use in a lesson
      • Judicial proceedings or reports
      • Incidental reproduction; i.e. artwork in the background on a news report
  • 14. Licensing
    • Make a serious, good faith effort to locate the owner
      • Try the copyright office website
    • Draft a licensing agreement explaining how you will use their work
    • Each individual right in the bundle of rights may be granted individually (i.e. just the right to make derivatives)
  • 15. What if someone is using my work?
    • Infringement
      • You must have registered your work to bring an infringement claim
      • You must show two things:
        • Access
        • Substantial similarity
      • If you can prove your case, you can sue for damages
        • Per use: prove the amount of use and be compensated what you should have received
        • Or, opt for statutory damages, which don’t require proof of actual damage to you
  • 16. Recovering for Infringement
    • First, draft a cease-and-desist letter
      • Especially if the use is online. You must write a take-down notice to the owner of the site displaying your work
      • Send the letter via certified mail and keep copies of everything
    • If there is no response or no settlement, file a lawsuit in federal court
      • Most lawsuits settle
  • 17. Other Intellectual Property Protection
    • Trademark – a word, name, or logo used in commerce
    • Patent – for inventions or processes
    • Trade dress – the general look and feel of a business or product
  • 18. Trademark
    • Registration is slightly more expensive than copyright
    • Protects the use of your business name or logo in commerce
    • A band name may be trademarked
  • 19. Patent
    • The most expensive form of protection
    • Lasts approximately 17 years
    • Intended to protect inventions and methods
  • 20. Creative Commons
    • Not an alternative to copyright
      • You still need to register; CC licenses alone will not protect your work
    • Narrows the scope of your copyright
    • You can choose “some rights reserved” (license) or “no rights reserved” (direct to public domain)
    • For use on any creative work
      • For software, use open source licenses instead
  • 21. Four CC License Factors
    • Attribution
      • Credit to the author
    • Commercial
      • Can choose to limit to non-commercial uses
    • Share alike
      • Requires future users to issue the same license
    • No derivatives
      • Stops others from altering your work
  • 22. Six Possible Combinations
    • Attribution
    • Attribution share-alike
    • Attribution no derivatives
    • Attribution non-commercial
    • Attribution non-commercial share-alike
    • Attribution non-commercial no derivatives
      • “ free advertising” – most restrictive
  • 23. Using CC Works
    • Use CC-friendly search engine
    • Licenses are legally viable
    • Licenses are irrevocable
      • As a licensor, you can choose to stop using the license, but you can’t limit uses which began under the previous license