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Copyright Myths from Merlin's blog

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Copyright Myths

I was just reading a lot of posts where people were very confused about copyright. A lot of violations are posted on line, and it is surprising the reasons people come up with for doing it.

1. The work doesn't have a copyright notice so I don't need permission. False.
Since March 1, 1989 copyright notice has been optional. The work is automatically copyrighted from the time it put in a fixed form.

2. If I give credit I don't need permission. False.
You still need permission to use the material. This may clear you of plagiarism, but not copyright.

3. I'm only using a small portion of the original work, I don't need permission. Maybe, maybe not.
There are some provisions for "Fair Use", this would usually be in the context of a quote. It would likely not cover photo manipulations. There is no percentage of change that makes it okay.

4. I don't need permission because I'm going to modify the original work. False.
Copyright law grants copyright owners the exclusive right to control modifications of their works. You need permission to create derivative works, including photo manipulations or fan fiction.

5. Everyone is doing the same thing, so I should be able to also. False.
This is one of the strangest reasons I have seen. Other people violating the copyright does not make it public domain and other people breaking the law does not make something legal or right.

6. The material I want to reproduce was posted to an online discussion or news group. !!!That means the work is in the public domain. False.
The owner may have posted it there for their own reasons, but that does not grant permission to copy. It may also be that the post was in itself a copyright violation that the owner is unaware of.

7. I purchased a copy so I have the right to post it. False.
What you purchased was the copy you have, not the right to reproduce, modify or publish it.

8. I didn't see anything that said I couldn't use it, so I don't need permission. False.
Copyright in the US is automatic when the work is created and belongs to the creator unless there is a written agreement transferring it to another person, or it was a work for hire done by and employee. In the case of a photograph, the copyright belongs to the photographer.

9. I downloaded it from whateversite.com so I have permission to use it. False.
To start with, do you know that site had permission? Were you given a license granting permission? As an example, there are a lot of online music sites which are selling MP3 files which they don't own or have license to distribute.

10. I don't have the ability to produce it myself so I have to use other people's work. False.
Yes, someone actually said this. There are many people that dream of being an artist, singer or entertainer, but there are not shortcuts. The people that created the material put a lot of effort in to their work and the copyright law is designed to protect them, not to allow those who have not put in the effort to participate for free. Basic theme here, if you didn't create it, you need permission from the person who did to use it.

11. I'm not hurting anyone. False
Personally I have lost thousands of dollars to copyright theft. People redistributing my work caused a dramatic drop in sales.



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By Merlin
Added Nov 15 '16

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