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Some basic ideas on Copyright law for Wikipedia users


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Wikipedia is a complex environment. The servers are in the United States, which does not include a "rule of the shorter term" making some works inadmissible even though they are in the public domain in India. There are any number of quirks in this largely perhaps outdated law.

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Some basic ideas on Copyright law for Wikipedia users

  1. 1. Copyright and Licensing an introduction © L. Shyamal 2014 Disclaimer : not to be treated as legal advice
  2. 2. History of copyright laws • Prior to printing - physical controls on scribes and access – Prohibited books and censorship (eg. by the Pope in 1501) • Stationers’ Company - rights for the book trade (not author) • Statute of Anne in April 1710 (but real effect only from 1774) – a bargain between authors, booksellers and the public – 21 years for those already in print and 14 years for new – Limit created the “public domain” • Berne Convention 1886 onwards - international agreements • WIPO Copyright Treaty or WCT (1996) – automatic copyright (no registration) across signatories – life + a minimum of 50 years – India is a signatory
  3. 3. Some essentials • Copyright versus patent and relation to plagiarism • Copyright is automatic - when “fixed in a tangible medium” • Copyright aims to protect creative expression - not ideas • Copyright laws vary despite international agreements • “Public Domain” works can still be restricted by • property rights • contractual agreements • Complications related to • database rights • moral rights • personality rights • “freedom of panorama” • Doctrine of first sale • And a lot of grey areas
  4. 4. Current trends • Steady duration increases from life of author + 50 to 60 and now 70 years • Complications arising from US law - especially valid for Wikipedia as servers are located in the US - no to “rule of the shorter term” • Most Copyright law amendments driven by industry recording, movies, book publishers not always in favour of the general public
  5. 5. Indian Copyright Act 1957 Based on UK laws Term of copyright in photographs - 60 years Term of copyright in Government work - 60 years Includes “rule of the shorter term”
  6. 6. Licensing in the UK
  7. 7. Tax-payer’s and their rights 17 USC § 105 Right to Information Act 2005 ?
  8. 8. Some progress
  9. 9. Technological change and legal legacies • Digital technology and the Internet challenge the idea of “copy” • Many “copies” are made on the wire, along the path, by service providers and so on • Content mixed and reused in new ways • What constitutes fair / commercial use becomes difficult to tell • Q: does linking a file violate copyright? • Q: does embedding an image on another server violate copyright? • Q: does an image search engine violate copyright law?
  10. 10. A need for “Freedom” Works created by large numbers of “authors” On Wikipedia every edit creates a derivative 4 Freedoms • Use • Modify • Share • Share modifications Allowing commercial support - GNU/Linux - a successful model
  11. 11. Creative Commons - A range of licensing options
  12. 12. Wikimedia Commons Acceptable Not-acceptable
  13. 13. What is welcome on Wikimedia Commons You can license what you have rights on Photographs of natural objects, illustrations made by you 2D images of 3D objects in public space (varies with country) buildings sculpture People in public space Images of objects in museum (permanent and public exhibits) Photographs of routinely manufacture items You can use material in the public domain Copies of paintings or photos in public domain
  14. 14. What is not acceptable Own photographs of a copyrighted image Copies of copyrighted paintings 3D replicas of existing copyrighted 3D objects People in private situations (Personality Rights) Images of objects in special exhibits in museum (non-permanent) Photographs of items that represent copyrighted items
  15. 15. Test yourself • Scan of a photo of your famous grandfather from your family album • Photo of statue at road crossing • Photo of statue in a private collection • Photo of an animal in the zoo • Photo of a pet belonging to someone else • Photo of the President of India taken from Government website • Photo of a Rupee coin • Scan of a 10 Rupee note • Map of India (pre-1923) • Survey of India - Map of India • US Army map of India • Google Earth screenshot • Photograph showing Jawaharlal Nehru (pre-1947, photographer unknown)
  16. 16. More ... • Scan of an Indian postage stamp issued in 1972 • Scan of an Indian postage stamp issued in 1940 • Photo of a painting by M.F. Hussain (d. 2011) • Photo of your friend standing with a painting by M.F. Hussain in background • Singing Happy Birthday song • Happy birthday song used in a movie • Painting made by an elephant(!) • Recording of a folk song • Recording yourself singing the lyrics of an out of copyright song
  17. 17. And some more ... • Recording of the song of a bird • Use a copyrighted font in your document • Trace a map made by the Survey of India • An artistic map based on a map by the Survey of India