Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Copyright Video

Check out this video on copyright... It's IMPORTANT!

Lawrence Lessig is the world's authority on Copyright issues. He is a professor of law at Stanford Law School and founder of its Center for Internet and Society. Lessig is a founding board member of Creative Commons and is a board member of the Electronic Frontier Foundation and of the Software Freedom Law Center.

Freedom Of Expression Is Limited

Words, images and symbols in their various configurations are the substance of free expression. Freedom of expression is one of the fundamental rights provided by the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution:

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances".

The most basic component of freedom of expression is the right to freedom of speech. This right allows individuals to express themselves without interference or constraint by the government. The right to free speech includes digital mediums of expression that communicate a message.

Creativity and expression do not happen in a vacuum; everyone builds upon work of the past. Existing combinations of words, images and symbols are used for creating new forms of meaning and expression. This is a KNOWN fact. Businesses and individuals profit from owning, controlling and selling the rights to existing works.

Our ability to use and reuse digital content for expression has become difficult due the ownership of intellectual property. Although we theoretically have the Constitutional Right to freedom of expression we are restricted from using existing works owned by others. Nearly everything created is now copyright protected automatically. This fact requires digital artists to KNOW about copyright issues in order to avoid copyright violation.

Digital artists must know what media content is FREE and LEGAL to use. If you do build on the work of others you must know what qualifies for "fair use". If you are not aware of this information you are at RISK of copyright violation. Copyright violation is considered THEFT and can have serious and costly repercussions.

Review the information on this webpage. Learn MORE about the issues of copyright. This is IMPORTANT information!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

U.S. Copyright Law

"Only one thing is impossible for God: To find any sense in any copyright law on the planet"
Mark Twain.

Copyright Law is a form of intellectual property protection that is granted by the federal government.

Copyright protection subsists only in original works of authorship if the work is also fixed in a tangible medium of expression from which they can be perceived, reproduced, or otherwise communicated, either directly or with the aid of a machine or device.

Copyright protection, however, does not and cannot exist for an idea, procedure, process, system, method of operation, concept, principle, or discovery, regardless of the form in which it is described or embodied.

Are you confused about copyright law? If so, you are NOT alone. It can be helpful to see the FLOW of copyright legislation over time...

1790: Congress enacts first copyright law with 14 year initial term and 14 year optional renewal (28 years max).

1909: Renewal term increased to 28 years (56 years max).

1976: Renewal term extended an additional 19 years (75 years max). This revision of U.S. Copyright Act states that all creative media: literature, music, dramatic works, pantomimes and choreographic works, dance works, photos, graphics, sculpture, paintings, motion pictures, sound recordings, and all types of audio-visual and multimedia works are automatically covered by Federal copyright law.

Result: It became no longer necessary to register your claim to be copyright protected; it is inherent in the act of creation.

1992: Removed renewal requirements (now automatic).

1998: Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act: This law extended copyright protection to life of the author plus 70 years.

The Digital Millinium Copyright Act (DMCA) was also passed in 1998. This law requires Internet service providers (ISPs) to remove any content and subscriber who has "allegedly" committed copyright infringement.

The copyright holder is granted legal right to issue subpoenas to copyright infringers located and identified through their ISPs. ISPs must furnish the names and addressed of alleged "pirates".

Result: Corporate entities are given the power to regulate copyright infringement on the Internet. Accused must defend their innocence against the powerful corporations and their lawyers. This is a "guilty until proven innocent" system.

The trend in copyright law has been to extend copyright protection. Copyrights for intellectual property can be owned, purchased and profited from long after the death of the original owner. This results in REDUCED media content entering the public domain.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Public Domain

Public Domain comprises the body of knowledge and innovation (especially creative works such as writing, art, music, and inventions) in relation to which no person or other legal entity can establish or maintain proprietary interests within a particular legal jurisdiction.

This body of information and creativity is considered to be part of a common cultural and intellectual heritage, which, in general, anyone may use or exploit, whether for commercial or non-commercial purposes.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Fair Use

The Copyright Law allows for copyright works to be legally used for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and/or research, so long as the work is "fairly used."

In determining whether the use in any particular case is a fair use Courts must consider four factors:

1) purpose and character of the use including whether such use is of a commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes

2) nature of the copyrighted work

3) amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole

4) effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work

The Copyright Management Center offers a Checklist For Fair Use. This checklist can help you determine if you qualify for fair use protection.

Digital Piracy

Digital piracy is unauthorized use of material that is protected by intellectual property rights law. Piracy includes reproducing or performing a copyrighted work or creating derivative works that build upon it.

In many jurisdictions, such as the United States, copyright infringement is a strict liability tort or crime. This means that the plaintiff or prosecutor must only prove that the act of copying was committed by the defendant, and need not prove guilty intent.

Pirates of the Digital Millennium is a GREAT book on the topic of digital piracy.

Creative Commons

Creative Commons defines the spectrum of possibilities between full copyright — "all rights reserved" — and the public domain — "no rights reserved". Creative Commons licenses help you keep your copyright while inviting certain uses of your work — a “some rights reserved” copyright. Check out the Creative Commons site to learn more about Creative Commons Licensing.