Monday, February 28, 2011

Copyright: The Basics by Sarah Kolb

When you create a new work, you own the copyright to that work. It happens automatically; you don't have to do anything other than create an original work. Of course, this abstract idea looks great on paper, but the obvious problem is that who created a work is essentially one person's claim against another.

Why should I copyright my work?

The fact that you've created a work doesn't necessarily mean that you're able to prove you've created the work -- and if you're not able to prove in a court of law that you created something, you're not going to be able to sue someone for using it without your permission.

This is where registering a copyright comes in. It's the only way to legally prove your authorship. You may have heard of the "poor man's copyright" -- the act of mailing a copy of the work to yourself, keeping the package unopened and the postmark intact -- but as there is no language to support this, it simply is not a legal defense. Better to copyright your work, allowing no room for argument.

What types of works are eligible for copyright protection?

Any work of original authorship (meaning that it is not an exact copy of another work) that has been fixed in a tangible medium (either physically or digitally; in other words, it is a thing and not just an idea) can be copyrighted. Examples include:

Sound Recordings
Audio/Visual Recordings
Computer programs

Not all types of works can be protected by a copyright. Examples of works not eligible for this type of protection include:

Blank forms (graph paper, scorecards, address books, etc.)
Public knowledge (height and weight charts, tape measures, anything taken from common sources)
Short Phrases
Logos (unless there is enough original authorship to warrant protection as two-dimensional artwork; simply setting a name or title in a specific font or giving the letters some sort of artistic treatment does not contain enough original authorship to qualify)

However, you may be able to protect types of intellectual property not eligible for copyright protection in another way, such as with a trademark or a patent. It's best to discuss this with your legal advisor, if you're uncertain which type of protection is best for your work.

Can I Protect My Unpublished Work With A Copyright?

Absolutely. Publication was once a requirement, but the current Copyright Act no longer requires that a work be published to receive protection.

Incidentally, recent versions of the Copyright Act have removed one other previous requirement: that the copyright notice and symbol be present on the work. While a good idea to deter would-be copyright infringers, the copyright notice is no longer required to be placed on the work, even if that work is published. Ignorance of a work's copyright protection is not a legal excuse to violate that protection.

Sarah Kolb,

Since 2000, Click Industries, Ltd. has helped thousands of small business owners, independent entrepreneurs, artists, musicians, and writers start new businesses, protect their intellectual property and find new ways to market and promote their business and creative works. Our copyrighting division, Click and Copyright, offers copyright filing services for creative professionals.

Licensing and Transference of Copyright

By Malika Bajpai

A Copyright acquired by an individual or a party may be transferred to another party. To accomplish this some conditions must be carried out among the parties. This is a common practice in the music industry. The creator of a music or song forms an agreement with the music company in which the company acquires all the rights to copy, distribute and publicize the items in the market. The original creator is provided with royalties in return. Due to the advent of the internet much of the copying and distribution is done through the internet but the company also pays heed to the marketing factor. The company looks after the marketing the creator (singer or musician) among the masses.

It depends on the copyright holder whether he/she wants to transfer all the vested rights to other. The owner of the right may transfer few of the rights to some party. When the transfer is done the original owner have to sign in legal documents. For exclusive license this is particularly useful where both the parties agree on the conditions and give their sign. The rights that are handed over to the party are mentioned exclusively leaving behind other rights. Legal documents involving such transfers of right should be with the concerned Copyright office. In US this is the rule.

Licensing of the Copyright is also performed in some countries. The benefit that adheres to the license considerably helps individual to acquire the copyrighted work without the consent of the owner. For this the concerned, issues a notice to the authority and pays some amount of money as fixed by the authority. If someone violates the law related to licensing it may lead to infringement. Various bodies have been formed to look that the policies and procedures are carried out properly. Thus doing this ensures that the creators are returned with adequate fees fixed for them.

To learn more about bankruptcy related issues please log on to the given website Law and Legal Care is a law portal having eminent team of attorneys across US, and offers quality service to its clients.

Monday, February 21, 2011

WikiLeaks and US Government, Serial Violators of Copyright

by Vel Nirtist -

Since WikiLeaks and the American government are locked in a bitter and acrimonious struggle, a claim that the two share a common underlying mentality may appear bizarre.

And yet, such is indeed the case: what unites US government and the WikiLeaks is their attitude to copyright -- or, more precisely, their respective answer to the question "do the tools of exercising the copyright belong with the copyright itself, or can they be used separately?"

WikiLeaks clearly thinks that the latter is the case -- and uses a tool of copyright, the internet, even though it has no copyright to the material itself. In WikiLeaks mind, the copyright and the exercise of its tools do not belong together; one party can have the copyright to the material, yet a different party can wield the tools to publish this material.

Which is precisely the position of the US government.

Consider this scenario. You wrote a book, and therefore have the copyright to it -- the right to publish. Unwilling to go to a publisher because he will pocket two thirds of the profit, or because you have no connections, you decide to exercise your copyright and to publish your book yourself. How do you make the book trade -- the libraries and bookstores -- aware of your newly forthcoming book? For that, you need the government's help -- you need to add it to the Library of Congress' catalog that provides subject keywords by which your book can be found by the interested parties. This is the key tool of exercising your copyright, since it makes your book visible in the marketplace.

Yet, if you publish your book yourself, the government denies you the use of this catalog, this essential tool of the copyright -- even though you actually own the copyright itself. Only the bigger third-party publishers -- the middlemen -- are permitted its use, not the actual owners of copyright -- the authors. Clearly, the government believes that the copyright and its tools do not belong together -- and thus, it fully shares the WikiLeaks position and philosophy.

Taking the tools of the copyright away from the owners of the copyright locks the latter out of the mainstream marketplace of ideas, to the detriment of us all. If all could speak, rather than merely those with the connections, perhaps many problems that surfaced in government cables leaked by the WikiLeaks would have been solved through the free and public debate. But the government doesn't want an open debate, and denies the key to the marketplace of ideas -- the tools of copyright -- to wider public. WikiLeaks, equally cavalier about the copyright, and sharing with the government the premise that tools of copyright do not belong with the copyright itself, now gave the government a taste of its own medicine -- and published what the government -- the copyright owner -- does not want published.

So, evisceration of copyright turned out to be a double-edged sword. The very same principle of separating tools of the copyright from the copyright itself produced two very different outcomes: in one case, the authors who want their work present in the mainstream marketplace of ideas cannot place their books into it; yet in the other, the authors who would rather escape the limelight, now find themselves engulfed in it.

Solution? Let the copyright be copyright, so the tools of publishing (or of exercise of the copyright, which is the same) belong together. Hopefully, the court case to which I am a party -- Overview Books v. US -- will restore the normal meaning of the copyright as the author's right to publish without a middleman -- and his or her ability to utilize all requisite tools, including the government-maintained catalog.

While the government should be able to keep its secrets, the public should also be able to do what it needs to do to function properly -- to freely discuss whatever the members of the public want to discuss. Both needs will be served by restoring to the copyright its normal function -- that of allowing authors the right to present their works to the mainstream marketplace of ideas -- or to withhold it from the public scrutiny if they wish to do so.

Vel Nirtist writes on the role of religion in fostering terrorism. He is author of “The Pitfall of Truth: Holy War, its Rationale and Folly.” His blog is at

From Music To Books: Piracy Threatens Professional Publishers

While piracy in the music industry is well documented and widespread, little attention has been given to its latest victim, professional books. The latest article in Simba Information's bi-monthly newsletter Professional Content Report, "Professional Book Piracy Thriving in Cyberspace," finds challenges in combating piracy and quantifying the potential revenue loss.

Currently moving onto an online platform, professional book publications, which generate $13.91 billion in revenue annually, are confronting mounting losses from digital piracy, the article finds. Several websites that publish textbooks and eBooks for free are profiting through subscriptions and advertising while maintaining immunity from copyright infringement, making these profiteers very difficult opponents.

"If piracy is next to impossible to fight, the question is how publishers should react to this situation," notes Dan Strempel, senior editor of Professional Content Report. "Do they treat piracy as part of the cost of doing business in the Internet age, or do they try and recoup piracy losses from paying customers by raising prices? It would be extremely challenging for publishers to do the latter, considering the economic pressures in the scholarly/professional system."

Quantifying the loss associated with this piracy remains a challenge. Findings suggest as much as $1.7 million in potential revenue is lost per title in the technical segment and about $1 million per title in the science segment. According to the article, progress is being made through trade associations and cooperation between publishers; however, there remains a greater need of public awareness, government resources and collective effort to effectively combat book piracy.

"Until someone puts the 'force' in international copyright enforcement, they might just have to learn to deal with it," notes Strempel.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Selling A Website - Watch Out For Copyright Problems

By Richard Chapo

You've built a website and turned it into a successful business. Now you want to sell it. Before you start coming up with a price, it is vital that you think through the process and make sure you have your ducks in order well before a buyer comes along.

Selling a business is always much more of a task than the party selling imagines. There are a host of issues that have to be addressed, issues that can be tough to get through. Although an internet site has no physical presence unless you want to count the servers, there are a host of issues that arise when trying to sell it as well. Let's look at an example to see how copyright can be an issue.

You have a site selling blood pressure monitors to consumers. Heart disease is the number one killer in the United States, so it is a ripe market. The site does really well and one of the big health industry sites notices as much. Discussions on a sale begin and you are suddenly looking at making a serious amount of money. A final price is agreed upon and then due diligence is undertaken by the buyer. Suddenly, you are in trouble.

The initial question the buyer will have is do you own the copyright to the site design. Well, do you? If you designed the site yourself, then you do. Most people don't do this. Instead, they hire a designer to do the work. Since the designer is usually an independent contractor, he or she will actually own the copyright to the design under established law.

The only way you could have circumvented this was to have them sign a copyright transfer contract or include appropriate language in the initial design agreement to this effect. If you didn't, you are going to need to approach them and hope they will assign it without too much financial pain on your part.

There are other problems that can arise with copyright for sites that are sufficient to sink any site sale. For instance, what if you had them sign a contract, but can't find it? What if they gave you a license to use the design, but it can't be transferred? What if part of the design was used from another site they already had rights to? The questions can be endless and the buyer is going to want an answer to all of them.

The time to deal with copyright problems is not during the due diligence process. The time to deal with them is well before you think of selling. In fact, every site should go through a website audit once a year to make sure issues related to copyright, trademark, regulatory compliance and the like are all being taken care of and are up to date.

Richard A. Chapo provides website audit services and provides legal services to clients in California at

Plagiarism - Your Rights Under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act

By Russell J Barnstein

Plagiarism is an unbridled problem on the internet and the only specific protections for content owners are under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. Passed by the Clinton administration in 1998, this copyright law seeks to protect writers, web developers and content owners from illegal infringement and plagiarism by extending the reach of copyright law, thereby offering recourses in order to prevent, stop, and report plagiarism.

Plagiarism is all too easy on the web, but the Digital Millennium Copyright Act makes it all too easy to have plagiarized work taken down. Under the DMCA, internet service providers are protected from liability for acts of plagiarism by their users. However, websites are exempt from this protection, and if you request to have plagiarized work taken down, website owners and administrators must immediately comply in order to avoid liability under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.

Plagiarism and its Definitions: The Digital Millennium Copyright Act

Plagiarism and copyright infringement was more clearly defined by the Digital Millennium Copyright Act to include cases where individuals circumvent measures put in place to prevent unauthorized access to materials or to prevent plagiarism. Criminals that do this are subject to being tried, fined and incarcerated under the DMCA.

The Digital Millennium Copyright Act also seeks to prevent plagiarism by preventing others from linking to plagiarized work. While this legislation is currently in place, there have been no court cases involving a person being tried for linking to plagiarized work, unless that person was previously admonished for or found guilty of plagiarism.

The Digital Millennium Copyright Act relies on the self-education of users to take action in specific steps, the easiest of which is to simply notify the webmaster of an offending site and request a take-down of plagiarized work. This almost always achieves results, but if it does not, plagiarism can be pursued by contacting the Better Business Bureau, the State's Attorney General Office, by reporting plagiarism to the major search engines, and by seeking litigation.

Unless you take steps to prevent, detect and report plagiarism, thieves will have no incentive to discontinue stealing your valuable content. And if you think plagiarism isn't happening to you, think again by visiting this link to learn more about the Digital Millennium Copyright Act and report plagiarism now.

Need to know more about how to prevent, detect and report plagiarism.

Tired of chasing those who plagiarize your work? Improve your leverage and help us put pressure on the search engines by joining our free site to report plagiarism.