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Play It Safe: Making Sure You're Not Committing Copyright Infringement
Copyright infringement is not an easy thing to explain. While it may seem as simple as not using someone else?s work, it?s not that easy. Thanks to the Electronic Frontier Foundation, and many other organizations, we have the ability to use others? works ? as long as we use it under ?fair use? laws. So what does fair use have to do with copyright infringement, and how can you utilize it?
Fair use laws are the conditions in which you can use a copyrighted work without having to pay someone royalties. This includes when you use a copyrighted work for educational or instructional uses, criticism of the work, commentaries on the work, news reporting about the work, teaching on the work (including multiple copies for classroom use), scholarship uses, and research. This is talked about fully in Section 107 of the Copyright Code (commonly called Fair Use) and is available for you to read at your local library.
Copyright Infringement in day-to-day life
Sometimes, if you?re writing a paper for work or school, or if you are creating a Power Point presentation, you need to use someone?s work that is already in copyright. So how do you use it without committing copyright infringement? All you have to do is ask ? the worst they can say is no, right? But, if they do say no, there are several items in the public domain which may help you to finish your project without having to commit copyright infringement.
What is the public domain, and how does it relate to copyright infringement?
Material that is not copyrighted is considered in the public domain ? you cannot commit copyright infringement on works in the public domain. These works include things that the copyright has expired on, or is not copyright-able ? such as government publications, jokes, titles, and ideas. Some creators (writers, musicians, artists, and more) deliberately put their work in the public domain, without ever obtaining copyright, by providing an affiliation with Creative Commons. Creative Commons allows people who create materials to forfeit some, or all, of their copyright rights and place their work either partially or fully in the public domain.
So, how do I ensure I?m not committing copyright infringement?
First of all, if you?re going to use someone else?s material, you may want to check the public domain to see if something is suitable for use, instead of trying to use someone else?s copyright. However, if you can?t find something suitable (and you can?t create something yourself), the next best thing (and your only legal course of action) is to find a piece that is in copyright, and contacting the copyright holder.
When you contact the copyright holder, make sure you tell them what you want to use their piece for ? whether it?s for your blog, podcast, or report ? and ask them if you can use it. You may have to pay royalties, or an attribution in your piece, or a combination of both. The creator may also place many limitations on when and how you can use their material. Follow all these instructions they give you, and you?ll be free and clear to use their work as you want.
Once you have permission to use a copyrighted work, you need to make sure you stay within the agreed-upon boundaries - if you veer outside their agreed terms, you may open yourself up for a copyright infringement lawsuit ? which can be nasty, costly, and time consuming. If you?re in doubt, before contacting the copyright holder, contact a copyright lawyer to ensure you?re following the law ? and protect yourself!
How to copyright music How to Copyright Music for the Beginner For those wondering how to copyright music the answer can be both long and short. The first thing to remember is that most people are confused about exactly what it means to actually copyright music. Music is actually copyrighted as soon as it is presented in a fixed form. It doesn't really matter whether that fixed form is as written sheet music or as a recording. Most people are looking for solid legal protection and while a copyright is good to have, it is essentially worthless unless you've actually gone to the effort of also registering your copyright. Rather than asking 'how to copyright music', perhaps the better question would be 'what do I do now that I've copyrighted my music?' It doesn't really matter what you call it unless you're moving around in legal or industry circles I suppose, but I've always felt that it's a good idea to have a clue about the process in which you are embarking. Now that we've answered how to copyright music, it's time to move on to the real issue, which is registering your copyright. Music is registered through the U. S. Copyright Office. You will need to fill out an application, pay a fee, and provide a copy of your music. As far as government dealings go, this is one of the least painful. Even the fee is marginal when you consider your 'hopeful' future profits and royalties. All that aside, there is something that is massively satisfying about knowing how to copyright music and having your first piece of music registered. Music is an art form and the ability to write music is nothing insignificant. It is a real talent that is actually quite rare. Many popular musicians today use music that has been written by others either in addition to or rather than music that they have written themselves. Even if you aren't a talented performer, it doesn't mean that your music will never be seen or heard or that you should not bother learning how to copyright music. You just might find that you are more in demand for your particular talents than you would have ever dreamed possible. The big thing to remember though is not to sit around wondering how to copyright music but to get out there and go about the process of creating and making more wonderful music to share with the world. It takes all kinds of music to keep this world turning and there is someone out there that is waiting to hear the music that you create. The process of how to copyright music is completely free. The process of registering your copyright is worth every penny you will spend. It is important to protect your music now more than ever with piracy and widespread downloading providing significant reductions in profits for everyone involved. The music industry is also a very fickle industry and you need to maximize your profit potential and usefulness. Once you understand how to copyright music, you need to make sure every piece of music you have has been copyrighted, then you need to go through your music and systematically register each and every piece as well. Even if you must do one piece at a time until you manage to register the copyright on them all, it is much better to be safe than sorry should you ever go to trial in a copyright infringement case. Also remember to pay it forward and support up and coming musicians by sharing the information of how to copyright music and how to register copyrights as well.
Freebie Etiquette (Yes, There is Such a Thing!) When you are on the hunt for free stuff, it can be easy to be so blinded by the offers that your manners go flying out the window completely. You may also just not realize that when it comes to taking advantage of freebies there is a general code of conduct that it pays to follow. While you are racking up the free stuff, keep these common courtesy rules in mind so that you are doing your part to keep the hunt for freebies fun and enjoyable. Freebie etiquette rule number one is to remember that there is a face behind every freebie, no matter how distant it may seem. Since so many freebies come from websites and you don?t actually have interaction with a human being while you are getting them, it can be very easy to forget that someone (or very likely, a lot of someones) worked hard to bring you that website and that free deal. If you have a problem with a website or a form while trying to get some free stuff, deal with it as respectfully as you would if you had to approach a customer service rep in person. Leaving foul-mouthed posts on a message board or unloading a barrage of outrage on a customer reply form isn?t the way forward. Someone ? a real person ? will have to help you, and you?ll get a lot further by treating them with respect. Respect is also the name of the game when it comes to rules attached for freebie offers. There are often restrictions in place for taking advantage of free offers, such as the age you have to be to cash in on the offer or how many offers per household can be taken. Sure, there are plenty of ways to get around these rules and ?trick? a company into giving you an offer for which you are not really eligible. However, when you try to simply bleed out as many free offers as you can, you?re only making it hard on companies to be able to keep bringing these offers to you. If this freebie isn?t for you, take a back seat and make room for the folks who can take advantage of it. Your time will come. Related to this last rule is the idea of not being too greedy when gobbling up the free stuff. Just because something is free doesn?t mean you should use a ?smash and grab? approach and go for as much as you can get of anything you can get. Remember that there are a lot of other people out there who like to get in on the freebies, too, and think about how you would feel if you lost out on something you really wanted because someone came along and took them all. Don?t take more than your share of any free offer, and don?t take things you don?t want or need just because they?re free. Everyone loses when you do that. Last but not least, if you have an opportunity to say thanks for a freebie, grab it. Of course, this can be hard to do when the free offers you are taking advantage of are found on the Internet, but there are still ways. Look for the customer comment field in the request forms you fill out to get your free stuff and leave a quick thank you there. You can also write a thank you on message boards and chat rooms that are associated with the freebie websites. The good will generated by your gratitude will only help convince companies that freebie offers are useful tools for reeling in the customers.