Monday, June 29, 2009

Copyright - What is It? by Julian Boote

Artists, writers, innovators, and fact creative and business people from all backgrounds; mostly those starting out, but even some with a level of experience in their field behind them, have at some point or another realized they've had misconceptions about what copyright is, how it works, for what types of creative work, and what it can do for them.

So, let's get started, and perhaps with the most obvious questions anyone may have about copyright; what is it, and why does it exist in the first place?

Let's start with the latter question first.

Why copyright exists

Imagine this scenario; you build a cottage, say, to your own design. It's a beautiful, Tudor-style, thatched roof affair, with a small, well-kept garden, and a breath-taking view of rolling, verdant green hills offering spectacular sunsets in the evening. Now imagine someone finds out about your unique, very attractive cottage one day, and moves in while you're out. You come home to suddenly find you can't get back in, and this squatter inside is claiming they own your house, that they built it even, and worse, they've started renting out the back bedroom for a pretty penny. To cap it all, they're now building duplicate cottages matching your design down the road to sell and earn even more money. Now imagine there was no law in existence to give you the opportunity to re-claim ownership of your property and no means to stop the usurper or win restitution from them for their actions.

Transfer this - admittedly crude - analogy to creativity, and that's why copyright exists.

I like how the Irish Patents Office(1) puts it on their website with regards the Nature of Copyright:

"First, persons who create works of the intellect or who invest in their creation and dissemination are entitled as a matter of human right to secure a fair return for their creativity and investment.

Secondly, unless the rights of creators and investors to a fair return are supported, the community as a whole would be impoverished by the fact that, in many cases, these works would not be created or developed."(2)

Our civilization progresses through creativity and innovation. But for creators to create, they need to eat, they need to live, earn money, receive recognition for their work and the stimulus to keep striving when the going gets tough. Copyright exists therefore to make this happen and help the innovators earn revenue from their creations. Copyright exists to promote creativity and help creative people live from their creativity. Copyright exists because it makes creative and business sense for copyright to exist.

If a writer earns money from their work, they can earn the funds to keep writing. If an artist earns money from the licensing and manufacturing of images of artwork, they have income so they can invest their time productively in more projects. Furthermore, copyright exists to encourage innovation and prosperity, for society as a whole as well as for the individual doing the innovating.

Take copyright away and you effectively tie the hands behind creatives' backs. Imagine a world culturally, creatively, industrially and economically deprived because its innovators weren't given the reward for - and the power to protect the use of - their endeavours.

With that in mind, lets put my cottage analogy into proper context now; you're a creative person, aren't you? Imagine every time you created something, someone could come along and copy it, claim it as their own and very likely make money from it, and without fear of consequences because there was no law making their actions punishable. You'd very soon give up creating wouldn't you? What'd be the point of all that hard work when others could reap the credit and the reward?

Fortunately for us, that's not how it is in the real world. Lets read again what the Irish Patents Office says; that it's a "...human right to secure a fair return for their creativity and investment." I say again, nicely put.

So that's why copyright exists.

But just what is copyright?

Copyright is...

If you consider my crude cottage analogy again; it essentially establishes what copyright is... a property right. But a property right that applies, not to land or buildings or vehicles, but to products of the human mind... of our intellect. Creative products, such as literary, dramatic, musical or artistic or filmic work.

And what can one do with this "intellectual property" right?

Well, copyright has some similar but also different entitlements to other forms of property right, specifically allowing the copyright owner (or owners) to:

copy, lend and distribute their work
license others (i.e. grant written permission) to use the copyright owner's work
adapt their work or licence others to do so (e.g. adapt a book into a movie)
sell their created work - their intellectual property - to others, and, importantly...
have powers to stop wrongful infringement of those rights by third parties, i.e. the copying and exploitation of the copyright owner's work without their permission, as well as...
obtain recompense in the form of compensation or damages for infringement where loss of revenue has been discovered.
This applies to a copyright owners work, whether or not it's been published, exhibited or otherwise released to the public for their consumption.
Not only this though...

Moral Rights in copyright

A creator and commissioner of a copyrighted work is also entitled under copyright to other rights relating to their work. Called "Moral Rights", these are:

the right to be identified as the author (or artist, or photographer, or composer, or director etc.), and to stop a work being falsely attributed to them
the right not to have their work subjected to derogatory treatment (alteration, re-arrangement or deletion) by others; "derogatory treatment" being where the resulting work is mutilated, distorted, and can damage the creator/authors reputation
the right to privacy when it comes to certain photographs and films (e.g. a commissioner of private photos has the right not to have them published or exhibited to the public where the photos become copyright works)

Here's some examples of these above three points:

I've asserted my moral right to be identified as the author of this article; a right I have under law to do so(3). Were this a fictional book, and it was adapted into a movie, I'd also have the right to be identified in the movie as the author of the source novel - unless you set aside the right. Conversely, Alan Moore, whose now legendary unhappiness at the treatment of adaptations of his graphic novels and how he feels they've reflected badly on his original work, has prompted him to demand his name be removed from the movies credits, such as Watchmen.

If for some reason, J K Rowlings Harry Potter series of books had been knowingly and deliberately credited as my work and not hers by someone else, both she and I could stop it, due to false attribution.(4)

If during the editing of this book, I'd felt a third party (an editor, a publisher or printer) had done a hatchet job on all my hard work, I could not only let it be known how unhappy I was with this mistreatment, but I'd have the right to stop it too.(5)

Finally, the photo-portraits of my significant other and I which we paid a professional photographer for, hang on the walls where we live... and nowhere else without our say-so.(6)

See how Moral Rights work?

Now I need to mention there are however exceptions to Moral Rights; they can't be asserted when copyrighted works are computer programs or computer-generated work (created without human intervention), or for a typeface design. Also, if the creator/author hasn't asserted their right to be identified as the creator/author if that right applies, the Moral Right hasn't been violated. In addition, if the creator/author works for an employer who does/will own the copyright of the work you produce, you will not have this right either (more on this "Work Made For Hire" later).

Who owns copyright

Now that we know the "what" and "why" of copyright, lets find out the "who"; just who this "copyright owner" I've mentioned is:

The copyright owner is the person or persons who created the work that is copyrighted.

You might well have guessed that already.

Under copyright law then, creatives are usually the first person(s) granted ownership of copyright over the work they've created, as outlined above.(7) So if you're someone who's created a copyrighted work, the rights of ownership to that copyrighted work belong to none other... than you.

Lets be clear about this; no-one else but you, the creator of the copyrighted work, has these rights; not your mum, your partner, not nice Mrs Miggins down the road. (Yes, not even her either.) They're yours and yours alone (unless the created work has been a collaborative effort).(8) Exclusively. Nor will those rights be anyone else's unless and until you as the rights owner (sometimes called "rights holder" too) grants permission of usage - licenses - or gives away/sells - assigns - those rights.

Sounds good doesn't it? Works for me.

Having said that though...

There's ownership and then there's Ownership

People can get the wrong end of the stick when they hear about copyright ownership, so I thought - now that'd I've identified what copyright ownership is - it'd be worth clarifying what it isn't.

Now where you live you have products like DVDs, books and CDs all over, and you own them, right? I mean you paid good money for them, right? Sure you did. So you're their owner.

But does that mean you own the copyright subsisting in those products?

No, of course you don't.

Its the author and/or the publisher/distributor who retains the copyright. There's a difference then to owning a copy of a copyrightable work, and owning the copyright of that work itself. If you're forking out cash for, say a CD, you're buying ownership of that CD copy of that recording artists album, not ownership of the master recordings themselves, nor the right to produce copies of the CD you purchased either.

If more than one author or creator has been involved in producing the work, then joint copyright ownership applies. Song writing partnerships are a classic example, wherein by virtue of having co-written a song, they each become the joint copyright owners.

Then there's being hired to produce some work.

Were you hired? Check your copyright

We have all been employees, and many of us have been hired as freelancers. And in that time I guarantee you, we put something together, wrote or drew something for our employer. Does this mean according to what I've outlined above that copyright became ours?

Not necessarily.

You see, if we prepared this work as part of the duties of our employment, or if it was commissioned from us, if we're part of team employed on a project, or if in fact, we're building something under a "work made for hire" agreement, then in all likelihood the copyright will be our employers, not ours.

So are you in employment right now and creating works the rights to which you assumed were yours? Then take a look at the employment contract you signed with your employer. There are likely to be provisions in there which cover this question of ownership. Or are you yourself commissioning work from others? Then look at the purchase orders you send out or agreements you sign. Are there clauses in the terms and conditions which cover intellectual property rights for people you hire, so that those rights are yours upon payment?

So there we are; that's what copyright is, its purpose, and who gets to use it.

To learn more about copyright, please see our resource box.


(1) Irish Patents Office - "Copyright - A brief history"
(2) Irish Patents Office - "Copyright - A brief history"
(3) The Copyright, Designs & Patents Act 1988, Chapter IV Moral Rights, sections 77-79.
(4) The Copyright, Designs & Patents Act 1988, Chapter IV Moral Rights, section 84
(5) The Copyright, Designs & Patents Act 1988, Chapter IV Moral Rights, sections 80-81
(6) The Copyright, Designs & Patents Act 1988, Chapter IV Moral Rights, section 85
(7) The Copyright, Designs & Patents Act 1988, Chapter I, Subsistence, Ownership and Duration of Copyright, section 11.

(8) If more than one author or creator has been involved in producing the work, then joint copyright ownership applies. Song writing partnerships are a classic example, wherein by virtue of having co-written a song, they each become the joint copyright owners.

About the author Julian Boote.

Julian is the co-founder of duly noted® limited.

Are you worried about effectively proving when you created your intellectual property? Concerned you'd lose all your work in a worst case scenario?

We were too.

Being creative people ourselves, we'd learned over the years the value our work can have, the money it can earn, and the importance of copyright registration as an aid in the protection and validation of our ownership rights. We also learned (the hard way!) the need to back-up our work...just in case.

If you would like to learn a whole lot more about copyright, please visit

Monday, June 22, 2009

Use Copyright Free Music to Get More Value From Online Videos by Marlie Parsons

What is the connection between using copyright free music and getting more benefits from uploading videos to online video sharing sites such as YouTube? In a word, it's professionalism.

Most professional internet marketers know the value of posting videos on the Internet. There are multiple benefits. Even if nobody ever watches your video, if you include your website URL in the description of your video, this will be a valuable backlink to help drive traffic to your page because search engines tend to view video sharing sites, especially YouTube, as authority sites, on which backlinks are more heavily weighted.

Despite the value of these backlinks, posting a video that reflects badly on yourself of your business will not do you very much good in the long run. That is why, if you are going to upload a video that promotes your goods or services to prospective customers, you are doubtlessly going to want it to impress those prospects positively. Obviously, the better they feel about you and what you are selling, the more predisposed they are going to be to visit your site and do business with you.

Online videos are excellent examples of the old adage that you only get one chance to make a first impression. This is why including professional sounding background music as part of your video production will most likely to a long way toward influencing people in a positive way.

If you ever watch a movie on DVD or a TV commercial with the sound turned off, you know how important the audio component is to lend emotion and depth to the pictures on the screen. Leaving out this sound element is like cake without the icing or a hot dog without any mustard or ketchup. It seems incomplete.

Internet entrepreneurs who want to take full advantage of the potential of online videos know their productions need the full impact that background music provides, and there are several ways to obtain music without breaking the law and getting into trouble.

Of course, video sharing websites require that any video you upload must meet copyright requirements. If you use someone else's music without permission, you can not only get your video taken off, you could even get banned as well as facing potential lawsuits.

If money is no object, you could hire a producer and musicians to create custom background music, but for most people, this is simply too costly an option to be realistic. Many online companies are now selling copyright free music, but most of these are priced in the neighborhood of $10 per track or $50 per CD. Unless you are in the business full time, even this relatively low price can threaten to stretch the budgets of a lot of part-time internet marketers.

That is why anyone who is truly interested in benefiting from the value of using professional copyright free background music to enhance their videos is well advised to search carefully until a more affordable source of production music may be located.

Professional copyright free music priced at less than 5-cents a track is now available for instant download. For details go to

Monday, June 15, 2009

The Proper Way To Copyright Visual Arts Brian Johansson

If you are trying to register any type of visual arts you should follow the copyright process as explained here. Visual arts can generally be described as any pictorial, graphic, sculptural or architectural works. Including 2-dimensional and 3-dimensional fine, graphic and applied art. There are some architectural works that fall under visual arts, and depending on the medium of the art there may be parts of the exhibition that are not copyright protected. This includes pieces of art that may include working or moving parts or pre-existing parts such as furniture, clothing or machinery. Other works that fall under visual arts may include…..

· Two-Dimensional Works.

· Advertisements (pictorial).

· Artwork for bed, bath, and table linens or for wearing apparel (For example: heat transfers or decals already applied to T-shirts).

· Blueprints, architectural drawings, mechanical drawings, diagrams.

· Book jackets or record jackets.

· Commercial print
published in newspaper or other periodical.

· Commercial print or label (For example: flyers, labels, brochures, or catalogs used in connection with the sale of goods or services).

· Contributions to collective works (photographs, drawings, cartoons, etc., published as part of a periodical or anthology).

· Fabric, textile, wallpaper, carpeting, floor tile, wrapping paper, yard goods (If applied to a three-dimensional work, see below).

· Fabric emblems or patches, decals or heat transfers (not applied to clothing), bumper stickers, campaign buttons.

· Greeting cards, picture postcards, stationery, business cards, calendars.

· Holograms .

· Maps or cartographic material.

· Patterns, cross-stitch graphs, stitchery brochures, needlework and craft kits.

· Pictorial or graphic works (For example: artwork, drawings, illustrations, paintings).

· Pictorial or graphic works fixed only in machine-readable form .

· Posters, photographs, prints, brochures, exhibition catalogs.

· "Limited edition" posters, prints, or etchings (published in quantities of fewer than 5 copies, or 300 or fewer numbered copies if individual author is owner of copyright).

· Oversize material (exceeding 96" in any dimension).

· Three-Dimensional Works.

· Artwork or illustrations on 3-D objects (For example: artwork on plates, mugs).

· Fabric or textile attached to or part of a 3-D object (such as furniture).

· Games .

· Globes, relief models, or relief maps.

· Jewelry .

· Pictorial matter and/or text on a box or container that can be flattened (contents of container are not claimed).

· Prints or labels inseparable from a three-dimensional object (for example: silk screen label on a bottle).

· Sculptures, toys, dolls, molds, relief plaques, statues.

· Sculpture (for example: doll) in a box with copyrightable pictorial and/or textual material; claim in sculpture and artwork/text, oversize material (exceeding 96" in any dimension).

· Architectural Works include either unconstructed building s or constructed building s.

The second step is to put together a package including either a form VA, a check for $30 made out to the "Register of Copyrights" and a non-returnable copy of the materials that are being registered. The form VA can be obtained at the copyright offices website at under the visual arts tab. Depending on what medium your work is there are different requirements for the deposit materials. Obviously if you are registering a building they will accept a photograph of the building but they may also require drawings, plans or other supplemental material. You should research the particular medium that you are trying to register at the copyright listed above.

Find out more great information about copyright protection at

Monday, June 8, 2009

EFF Launches 'Teaching Copyright' to Correct Entertainment Industry Misinformation

As the entertainment industry promotes its new anti-copying educational program to the nation's teachers, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) today launched its own "Teaching Copyright" curriculum and website to help educators give students the real story about their digital rights and responsibilities on the Internet and beyond.

The Copyright Alliance -- backed by the recording, broadcast, and software industries -- has given its curriculum the ominous title "Think First, Copy Later." This is just the latest example of copyright-focused educational materials portraying the use of new technology as a high-risk behavior. For example, industry materials have routinely compared downloading music to stealing a bicycle, even though many downloads are lawful, and making videos using short clips from other sources is treated as probably illegal even though many such videos are also lawful. EFF created Teaching Copyright as a balanced curriculum encouraging students to make full and fair use of technology that is revolutionizing learning and the exchange of information.

"Today's tech-savvy teens will grow into the artists and innovators of tomorrow," said EFF Staff Attorney Corynne McSherry. "They need to understand their digital rights and responsibilities in order to create, critique, and comment on their culture. This curriculum fills an educational void, introducing critical questions of digital citizenship into the classroom without misinformation that scares kids from expressing themselves in the modern world."

The Teaching Copyright curriculum is a detailed, customizable plan that connects students to contemporary issues related to the Internet and technology. Teaching Copyright invites discussion about how creativity is enabled by new technologies, what digital rights and responsibilities exist or should exist, and what roles students play as users of technology. The website at includes guides to copyright law, including fair use and the public domain.

"Kids are bombarded with messages that using new technology is illegal," said EFF Activist Richard Esguerra. "Instead of approaching the issues from a position of fear, Teaching Copyright encourages inquiry and greater understanding. This is a balanced curriculum, asking students to think about their role in the online world and to make informed choices about their behavior."

The Teaching Copyright curriculum was developed with the input of educators from across the U.S. and has been designed to satisfy components of standards from the International Society for Technology in Education and the California State Board of Education.

Learn more about Teaching Copyright:

Friday, June 5, 2009

Copyright Alliance Launches New Educational Foundation

The Copyright Alliance, a nonpartisan organization dedicated to the value of copyright as an agent for creativity, jobs and growth, today launched the Copyright Alliance Education Foundation ( The new charitable arm of the Alliance will develop educational programs aimed at helping America's next generation of creators succeed.

The Foundation announced its first projects, already underway: development and distribution of a copyright curriculum for educators; and a partnership with the West Potomac Academy of Fairfax County Public Schools in Virginia, to refine Alliance curriculum materials and supplement them with information important to arts education.

"Our nation has reaped the rewards both culturally and economically of the principle and practice of copyright," said Patrick Ross, Copyright Alliance Executive Director. "This system has served us well for centuries - so much so, that it has become an invisible underpinning in our country's prosperity. Now, as a new generation of creators populates today's classrooms, we must ensure that principle is not taken for granted and continues to be a foundation for creative success."

The Foundation will develop and implement educational projects designed to meet two goals. 1) Help maintain a copyright-aware environment in the nation's classrooms to ensure creators' long-term ability to thrive. 2) Provide educational resources to future creators.

The Alliance has developed a pilot curriculum for teachers, "Think First, Copy Later," a comprehensive multi-faceted program designed to help librarians and media specialists answer questions and provide information about copyright in the classroom to other educators. The materials were distributed to 5,000 librarians and media specialists this spring to gauge usefulness.