Copyright, Creative Commons, and Fair Dealing


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Slides from a presentation by John Fink on copyright, given at McMaster University on January 10th, 2008.

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Copyright, Creative Commons, and Fair Dealing

  1. 1. Creative Commons, Fair Dealing, and Copyright
  2. 2. What is copyright? <ul><ul><li>A way of protecting original intangible works. </li></ul></ul>
  3. 3. But NOT... <ul><ul><li>Tangible items, like chairs, microwave ovens, staplers, automobiles or telephones. </li></ul></ul>
  4. 4. What is covered by copyright? <ul><li>ORIGINAL works, including: </li></ul><ul><li>literary works </li></ul><ul><li>musical works </li></ul><ul><li>dramatic works </li></ul><ul><li>artistic works </li></ul>
  5. 5. <ul><li>And ALSO: </li></ul><ul><li>performances </li></ul><ul><li>communication signals </li></ul><ul><li>sound recordings </li></ul>
  6. 6. What is NOT covered? <ul><li>Titles </li></ul><ul><li>Ideas </li></ul><ul><li>Names, slogans, short phrases </li></ul><ul><li>factual information </li></ul><ul><li>Anything in the public domain </li></ul>
  7. 7. So for example <ul><li>Let's consider a novel in hardback form. </li></ul><ul><li>The title of the novel cannot be copyrighted. </li></ul><ul><li>Nor can the physical item itself. </li></ul><ul><li>but... </li></ul><ul><li>the creative content inside is! </li></ul>
  8. 8. <ul><li>This is why we can sell used books, trade them with each other, set up libraries for lending – but we cannot legally duplicate the entire contents of a book. </li></ul>
  9. 9. Another, thornier example <ul><li>Another book, this time a cookbook. </li></ul><ul><li>Lists of ingredients cannot be copyrighted – they are considered facts. </li></ul><ul><li>BUT... </li></ul><ul><li>Directions on how to mix and cook ingredients CAN be copyrighted, as they are considered original work. </li></ul>
  10. 10. What is Fair Dealing? <ul><li>It is an EXCEPTION to copyright. </li></ul><ul><li>If copyright were absolute, it would be difficult or impossible to have: </li></ul><ul><li>reviews of books, movies, games etc. </li></ul><ul><li>scholarly works </li></ul><ul><li>timeshifting of TV shows </li></ul><ul><li>ripping of your CD to your iPod. </li></ul><ul><li>a conversation in which you quote your favourite Monty Python sketch </li></ul>
  11. 11. <ul><ul><li>Fair Dealing is a way of recognizing that, although works of intellectual property need to be protected in order to give creators the incentive to create, consumers also need exceptions to that protection. </li></ul></ul>
  12. 12. How do we tell Fair Dealing from outright infringement? <ul><li>... </li></ul><ul><li>uh </li></ul><ul><li>well. </li></ul><ul><li>hm. </li></ul><ul><li>There are NO guidelines that state how many lines of a book can be quoted under exceptions like Fair Dealing, and the nature of these exceptions can change if, say, a non-profit institution is involved, or with the age of the work, its availibility in different formats (Braille, or books for the blind), etc. </li></ul>
  13. 13. How long does copyright last? <ul><li>Generally, the life of the creator plus fifty years, starting at the end of the year. </li></ul><ul><li>So people who died in 1957 -- like John Von Neumann, Wilhelm Reich and Laura Ingalls Wilder – have had their works pass into the public domain as of January 1 st of this year. </li></ul>
  14. 14. What is the public domain? <ul><li>It's ownership by no one. </li></ul><ul><li>... or by everyone! </li></ul>
  15. 15. <ul><li>Take, for example, Hamlet. </li></ul><ul><li>Anyone can perform Hamlet, or distribute copies of Hamlet, or make a movie based on Hamlet, or quote Hamlet extensively in any other work without infringing, because Hamlet is in the public domain. </li></ul><ul><li>This means that if I put on a performance of Hamlet, I can't claim copyright over it and prevent you from putting on a performance of Hamlet. </li></ul><ul><li>BUT... </li></ul><ul><li>If I take Hamlet and change it somehow by adding new dialogue or stage directions, my changes (and ONLY my changes) may be protected by copyright. </li></ul>
  16. 16. damn yankees <ul><li>What about US copyright? </li></ul><ul><li>Generally... </li></ul><ul><li>Items published before 1923 are in the public domain. </li></ul><ul><li>Productions of the federal government. </li></ul><ul><li>As are items published between 1923-1977 without a copyright notice. </li></ul><ul><li>Or items between 1923-1963 for which copyright had not been renewed. </li></ul><ul><li>For almost everything else, it's life + 70, or 95 years if published by a corporation. </li></ul>
  17. 17. Unintended consequences... <ul><li>The ambiguity of copyright application in the US before 1978 has led to some interesting consequences and unintended bonuses to the public domain like... </li></ul><ul><li>Night of the Living Dead </li></ul><ul><li>The Last Man on Earth </li></ul><ul><li>My Favorite Brunette </li></ul><ul><li>Reefer Madness </li></ul><ul><li>...and a blue million ephemeral and educational films. </li></ul>
  18. 18. Why is copyright important now for academics? <ul><li>Because of the ease in which information can be duplicated and transmitted, students tend to, well, forget about what is protected and what isn't... </li></ul><ul><li>...resulting in my first class on web design and internet culture being inundated with projects containing images and movies cut and pasted without any thought as to their legal status... </li></ul><ul><li>...and resulted in another class not being able to distribute their final project, an educational DVD, because some of the incidental music used during the title sequences was not used with permission. </li></ul>
  19. 19. The Problem with Copyright <ul><li>Copyright is applied indiscriminately – everything, by default, is copyrighted to the fullest extent possible. </li></ul><ul><li>This isn't always an ideal situation – creators may wish to allow people rights beyond fair dealing but not quite to the lengths of public domain, but until relatively recently there was no organized way to do this. </li></ul><ul><li>This means that if, say, I take pictures and I want people to be able to use them in any way they want, provided they don't profit from the use, they would have to contact me personally to ask if the use is allowed, and maybe I have to get a lawyer, and draw up some legal documents, and send them back and forth, and... </li></ul><ul><li>... oh my god why bother. </li></ul>
  20. 20. Enter the Creative Commons <ul><li>So some bright folks came up with the idea of the Creative Commons, which is a series of copyright licences that allow the consumer greater freedom, but don't give away the whole farm. </li></ul><ul><li>So for instance, I can write a book, or take a picture, or make a song and put it under a license which will: </li></ul><ul><li>Allow people to give away copies of my work to their friends </li></ul><ul><li>Allow people to make derivative works without having to contact me </li></ul><ul><li>But maybe not let people sell my work for profit without asking me first or negotiating a separate deal. </li></ul>
  21. 21. <ul><li>Creative Commons is not one licence, but many, based on the creator's preferences. </li></ul><ul><li>Like whether allow commercial works or resale, or derivatives and the nature of those derivatives. </li></ul>
  22. 22. So for example <ul><li>I take photos and post them to my flickr stream. I want people to be able to use these photos without asking my permission. </li></ul><ul><li>flickr provides a mechanism for defining a licence </li></ul><ul><li>I apply a suitable Creative Commons licence to my photos. </li></ul><ul><li>...and they show up places I didn't even know about. </li></ul>
  23. 23. Why is this important? <ul><ul><li>For my second class, I wised up: I stipulated that the students could use any movies or images either from the public domain or Creative Commons for their projects, but they could not use items under full copyright. </li></ul></ul>
  24. 24. Why would a library want to bother? <ul><li>We consume content! </li></ul><ul><li>, say, pictures for a web page. </li></ul><ul><li>...or background music for a video. </li></ul><ul><li>...or in instruction sessions! </li></ul><ul><li>We create content! </li></ul><ul><li> of library events. </li></ul><ul><li>...recordings of lectures or speakers. </li></ul>
  25. 25. and libraries are... <ul><li>...inherent respectors of copyright. </li></ul><ul><li>but at the same time... </li></ul><ul><li>dedicated to the idea that information wants to be free. </li></ul><ul><li>... or at least accessible! </li></ul>
  26. 26. So how do we licence our own stuff? <ul><li>Make it! </li></ul><ul><li>...make sure we're the owner! </li></ul><ul><li>...then pop over to and fill out a teeny tiny questionnaire. </li></ul><ul><li>...upload or otherwise attach the results. </li></ul><ul><li>...we're done! </li></ul>
  27. 27. Any questions?