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Table of Contents 1

A Code of Conduct


Philosophy of Copyright


10 Big Myths About Copywrite Explained


Gonna’ Do it Anyway Even if it Doesn’t Pay

Common Ground This publication is the result of a two month colaboartion between four students. Each of us initially contributed a series of spreads and proceeded to choose our favorites from the group. We then reworked our favorite spreads adding elements of our own style to create a more uniform final product. The projects main focus was designing typographic layouts with the use of a uniform grid system. The result is a twelve page publication focusing on copyright laws surrounding creative material and ideas. The following articles are of particular interest to students preparing to enter the world of professional creative people.

1 If you are a designer, your bread and butter is your creative work. Unfortunately, the internet and other digital technologies have made it easier for copycats to steal your work or pass it off as their own. The law of copyright is there to protect you. But if you don’t know how copyright works or how you can use it to protect your work, it is pretty useless. what is copyright? Without getting into the legalese, copyright is basically the right to stop other people from copying, publishing or adapting your creative work without your permission. Looking at from the opposite angle, the owner of the copyright in an original work has the exclusive right to copy it, publish it, display it, distribute it, or make new works from it.

what is not copyrightable? Designers need to take into account that the following items cannot be copyrighted: titles, names, short phrases, and slogans; familiar symbols or designs; mere variations of typographic ornamentation, lettering, or coloring; mere listings of ingredients or contents. Ideas, procedures, methods, systems, processes, concepts, principles, discoveries, or devices. Common information such as calendars, measurement charts, TV guides. Government or legal documents. A number of these things may be protected by trademarks. But it will be the client, and not the designer, who will be entitled to apply for trademark protection. If you are not sure whether your new logo design would qualify for copyright protection, consult a specialist attorney.

when do i have these rights? Copyright comes into force as soon as you have transferred a great idea from your head to something written, drawn, doodled or typed on a pad, computer or sandstone tablet.

do i need to register my copyright? Registration is not a requirement for enjoying copyright protection. However in the US, registration is necessary if you want to enjoy certain benefits (presumption of copyright ownership, right to claim statutory damages) when suing a copycat in court.

what does the © do and do i need to put it on my work? Putting a copyright notice on your work is not compulsory (unless you can use it as a new design element). But it does tell people that the work is copyrighted and prevents defendant’s from claiming innocent infringement when you sue them (damages not payable by an innocent infringer).

can i use someone else’s work to create a new one? Using someone else’s work to create a new one may be copyright infringement if you don’t have that person’s permission. However, the copyright in the new work (known as a derivative work) will then be owned by both of you. You will be able to assert your rights over the new part that you created, even if you have infringed someone else’s copyright over the old part. The distinction also needs to be drawn between copying, which negates originality, and using existing material or knowledge common to you and to other people in your industry. This common knowledge doesn’t negate originality.

how long does copyright last? The term of copyright protection differs from country to country. But the rule of thumb is basically while you are alive and for 50 years after your death (70 years in the US).

do i need to assign copyright to my clients? This will depend on the way you offer your services or run your business. If you are designing a number of templates and licensing them to a number of people for a relatively low fee, you would want to retain your copyright. If you are designing customized brands and getting paid a lot of money for it, the client probably should be entitled to the copyright in that work.


Steve Ferguson However, the way the law is framed at the moment, if your copyright is not assigned in writing to the client, you will remain the owner. This is not common knowledge and client’s often mistakenly believe that they are automatically the owners of the work you do for them. It is often a useful tool for getting your money by agreeing with the client that you will assign the copyright to them once they have paid your full fee.

what are the client’s rights to the work if i don’t assign them the copyright? If there is no written assignment agreement relating to copyright ownership between you and your client, the client will generally have a licence to use your work. It will usually be implied that the licence is a non-exclusive, personal, irrevocable and royalty-free licence to use your work for as long as you enjoy copyright protection over the work. The client does not usually have an automatic right to tamper with or change your work and they cannot sub-licence it to other people. The best thing to do when offering your services is to present a written document to your clients setting out how you want to deal with the copyright issue. These standard terms can bring a level of certainty to your relationships with your clients and costly disputes can be avoided.

if i put my work on the internet, do i lose my copyright? No, you will still enjoy full protection if you post your work online. Remember to put your copyright notice on the webpage containing your work just to remind people of this.

how can my copyright be infringed? Your copyright will be infringed when someone copies or adapts a substantial part of your designs without your authority. Tests vary from country to country on what is regarded as substantial but the rule of thumb is that the substance of your work is

that part that gives it its originality. Your copyright can also be infringed by someone else who doesn’t copy or adapt your work but who distributes or makes infringing copies of your work available for sale or rent when they know that your copyright has been infringed.

what does fair use mean? Most countries allow limited copying, without permission, of protected work for private study, research, criticism, and news reporting. The copying needs to be fair in the sense that it should not deprive you of your rights or your ability to make money from your designs. Most copying that happens is for commercial gain and the copycats will not be able to rely on the defence of fair use or fair dealing.

do i have copyright protection in other countries? You will enjoy copyright protection for your designs in most other countries who are signatories to the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works. The Convention guarantees protection of your rights in all countries party to the treaty at the same level as you would enjoy in your own country.

what is digital rights management? DRM is a technology solution to the problem of copyright infringement. Digital watermarks or disabling the right-click save mechanism for online images are two examples. International laws have been introduced to prevent DRM technologies from being hacked or circumvented in an effort to stop copyright infringement at the source.




From Wikipedia, the free Encyclopedia

The philosophy of copyright might be said to include several philosophical issues which are fundamentally linked to copyright policy, and other jurisprudential problems that arise in legal systems’ interpretation and application of copyright law. Probably the most profound and widely debated philosophical issue amongst scholars of copyright law, is its purpose. Some take the approach of looking for coherent justifications of established copyright systems, while others start with general ethical theories, such as utilitarianism and try to analyse policy through that lens. Another approach denies the meaningfulness of any ethical justification for existing copyright law, viewing it simply as a result (and perhaps an undesirable result) of political processes. Another widely debated issue is the relationship between copyrights and other forms of “intellectual property”, and material property.Most scholars of copyright agree that it can be called a kind of property, because it involves the exclusion of others from something. But there is disagreement about the extent to which that fact should allow the transportation of other beliefs and intuitions about material possessions. There are many other philosophical questions which arise in the jurisprudence of copyright. They include such problems as determining when one work is “derived” from another, or deciding when information has been placed in a “tangible” or “material” form. Image courtesy of Francis Excelsior

4 Justifications for copyright Legal scholars often approach copyright in search of a coherent ethical justification for its existence and character. This approach may seem to be backwards — it might make more sense to start with an objective and then examine the law against it — but it is widely practised. Thus, the normative or ethical theories that might naively be regarded as tests for copyright law to pass are often called `justifications’ of it. Justifications for copyright can generally be approximated into two groups: deontological or consequentialist. Deontological justifications for copyright seek to justify copyright as a matter of rights or duty, they seek to assert a justification for copyright (or intellectual property more generally) on the basis that it is morally correct to do so. Contrariwise, consequentialist theories of copyright seek to justify or criticise copyright protection based on the consequences of that protection, by asserting or providing evidence that the protection of copyright produces some desirable effect. Examples of such theories include incentives theories that view intellectual property as a necessary way of incentivising the creation of new creative works.

Natural rights

A related class of theories is called instrumenta-

Copyright only protects the artist’s expression

Natural rights are linked to the logic of property.

lism; it holds that copyright law must exist for

of his/her work and not the ideas, systems, or

John Locke is of ten cited as an authorit y,

clear, coherent and necessary purposes, without

factual information conveyed in it and thus

although it is not clear that Locke actually viewed

being so strict as to require that it maximise

artists are free to get ideas from copyrighted

copyright as a natural right. Personality rights are

some kind of `goodness’ in its outcome.Some

works. Defenders of the present system of strong

the basis of German copyright law. This position

copyright scholars believe that, regard-less of

copyrights argue that it has been largely successful

regards copyrightable works to be extensions

contemporary advances in technology, copyright

in financing the creation and distribution of a

of the author’s personality. The author is given

remains the fundamental way by which authors,

wide variety of works, especially those requiring

certain powers to control those works on account

sculptors, artists, musicians and others can

significant labor and capital. Moderate scholars

of his or her connection to them.

fund the creation of new works, and that without

seem to support that view while recognizing the

a significant period of legal protection of their

need for exceptions and limitations, such as the


future income, many valuable books and artworks

fair use doctrine. Notably, a substantial portion of

Many economists believe that, in the absence

would not be created.They argue that the public

the current U.S. Copyright Act (sections 107-120) is

of intellectual property protections such as

interest is best served by repeated extension

devoted to such exceptions and limitations.

copyright and patents, various types of intangible

of copyright terms to encompass multiple

assets would be under-produced, because there

generations beyond the copyright holder’s life, as

Consequentialism in the US

would be insufficient incentives for commercial

this increases the present value of the copyright,

Consequentialism or instrumentalism is the legal

organisat ions t o produce them. From this

encouraging the creation for new works and

foundation of copyright law in the United States.

perspective, the objective of copyright law is

making additional investments in older works

Article One of the United States Constitution

primarily to balance the public benefits that can

(for example, the restoration of old movies)

authorizes Congress to “promote the Progress

arise from the widespread circulation, use and

economically viable.Authors’ heirs continue to

of Science and useful Arts, by securing for

reuse of a copyright work with the need to provide

profit if copyrights are enforced post-death and

limited Times to Authors and Inventors the

protection, incentive and reward to the creator

this provides a substantial incentive for continued

exclusive Right to their respective Writings

or owner of the copyright by granting a limited

fresh work even as authors age.The modern,

and Discoveries”. Many authors thought that this

monopoly to exploit the copyright to that body

market-driven copyright system provides authors

wording would actually require U.S. copyright laws

or individual.

with independent financing (through royalties).

to serve the purpose of `promoting the progress of science and useful arts’. In the US in 2003

Consequentialist theories

Without a feasible way to recoup investments of

controversial changes imple-mented by the Sonny

Consequentialist theories of copyright hold

creative time through copyright, there would be

Bono Copyright Term Extension Act extending the

that we should have the laws that will produce

little economic incentive to produce and works

length of copyright under U.S. copyright law by 20

the `best’ results for society. The most common

would need to be motivated by a desire for fame

years were challenged in the United States Supreme

consequentialist position is utilitarianism, which

from already affluent authors or those able to

Court. However, the Court, in the case called Eldred

defines the `best’ situations to be those in which

obtain patronage (with associated constraints on

v. Ashcroft, held, inter alia, that in placing existing

people are in total as happy or fulfilled as possible.

independence). Proponents of copyright dispute

and future copyrights in parity in the CTEA,

Economists’ analyses of copyright tend to follow

that copyright erodes precepts for creators to

Congress acted within its authority and did not

this philosophical approach.

be able to build on published expression pointing

transgress Constitutional limitations. Other

to concepts such as Scènes à faire and Idea-

jurisdictions have enacted legislation to provide

expression divide.

for similar extensions of the copyright term.


Opposition to copyright Critics of copyright as a whole fall broadly into two categories: those who assert that the very concept of copyright has never benefited society, and has always served simply to enrich a few at the expense of creativity; and those who assert that the existing copyright regime must be reformed to maintain its relevance in the new Information Society. The French droit d’auteur (“Rights of the Author”), which influenced the 1886 Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works, must also be noted as a significant alternative to the usual Anglo-Saxon concept of copyright. Among the latter group, there are also some who continue to agree with copyright as a way to grant authors rights, but feel that it “outlives its welcome” by granting copyright for too long (e.g., far beyond the lifetime of the author), and is therefore of little direct benefit to him or her. The prolongation of copyright term is commonly attributed to effective corporate lobbying, based on a desire for the continuance of a profitable monopoly. In the US, this is often phrased as a conspiracy to ‘control the Mouse’ (meaning Mickey Mouse, a trademarked character controlled by the Disney Company whose early works would have moved into the public domain save for such an extension). To many critics, the general problem is that the current (international) copyright system undermines its own goal. The concepts of the public domain and the intrinsic freedom of information are necessary precepts for creators to be able to build on published expression. But these are gradually being eroded, as copyright terms are repeatedly extended to last beyond the lifetime of the audience which experienced and knows of the original work. Another effect of the repeated extension of copyright term is that current authors are shielded from competition from a wide public domain: by the time current works enter the public domain, they will have almost always have become obsolete. This reduces the risk of commoditisation of topical nonfiction. Out-of-copyright publishing, such as classic literature where margins are very low, generally offers only the best of each genre. Opposition to current copyright practice also relates to the non-observance of the principal requirement of the original Queen Anne Act, which specified that for a work to obtain copyright a copy had to be deposited in a library of record, so that unlimited copies could be made when the copyright expired. This was observed for many years but was successfully opposed by the motion picture industry, which refused to provide copies of their films, resulting in the loss of many early films. Civilization experiences a similar loss of ancient documents held in private collections until they rot. The recent success of free software projects such as GNU/Linux, Mozilla Firefox, and the Apache web server has demonstrated that quality works can be created even in the absence of a copyrightenforced monopoly rent. Instead, these products use copyright to enforce their license terms, which are designed to ensure the free nature of the work, rather than securing exclusive rights for the holder for monetary gain; such a license is called a copyleft, free software license, or open source license. Even in more traditional forms such as prose, some authors, such as Cory Doctorow, retain the copyright to their work but license it for free distribution (for example under a Creative Commons licenses). This has the benefit of providing a structured scheme under which authors can loosen some of the barriers that copyright imposes on others, allowing them to partially contribute the work to the community (in the form of giving a general grant on copying, reproduction, use or adaptation subject to certain conditions) while retaining other exclusive rights they hold in it.


Copyright can also be used to stifle political criticism. For example, in the US the contents of talk shows and similar programs are covered by copyright. Robert Greenwald, a director of Uncovered: The Whole Truth About the Iraq War documentary was refused the right to use a clip of a George W. Bush interview from NBC’s Meet the Press. Although the fair use provisions of statute and common law may apply in such cases, the risks of loss in court should there be a lawsuit and pressure from insurance companies, who regard use of almost anything (e.g., three words forming the opening of a song) without permission as too risky, usually precludes use of materials without explicit permission, and so without a license fee. Copyright is also conceived by some to be an artificial barrier in that “expressions” could be freely exchanged between individuals and groups if there were no copyright or other legal restrictions preventing. Such people believe that as the state does not necessarily possess the moral authority to enact copyright laws, individuals may vary in their observation of such laws. Others disagree, believing that the copyright system, arising from provisions in the U.S. Constitution, has made and continues to make a valuable even essential contribution to the creation and dissemination of works. They also point out the social

Modern challenges to copyright Copyright concepts are under challenge in the modern era, primarily from the increasing use of peer to peer filesharing. Major copyright holders, such as the major record labels and the movie industry, blame the ease of copying for their decreasing profits. Alternative explanations have been put forward, such as poor product content and excessive license charges. Public interest groups, major corporations and the like, are entering the public education system to teach the curriculum from their perspectives. The lobbying group for the MPAA provide a curriculum entitled What’s the Diff? taught by a group of volunteers called Junior Achievement. The Business Software Alliance also has their own curriculum program called Play it Cybersafe, which is distributed to school children through a magazine called The Weekly Reader. There seems to be a general consensus amongst assorted interests in the USA that there needs to be some curriculum materials for school-aged children about copyright issues. The American Librarian Association released their own curriculum for librarians that

Notable Copyright Abolitionists

Notable Copyright Maximalists

David K. Levine

Rick Andrew

Stephan Kinsella

Joseph Galambos Mary Bono

Notable Copyright Reformers

Jack Valenti

Rick Boucher

Bill Gates

Jorge Cortell

Charles Gates

Robin Gross

Ryan C. Henry

Lawrence Lessig Eben Moglen Richard Stallman Siva Vaidhyanathan




10 Brad Tempelton

Big Myths About Copyright

1) If it doesn’t have a copyright notice,

it’s not copyrighted. This was true in the past, but today almost all major nations follow the Berne copyright convention. For example, in the USA, almost ever ything created privately and originally after April 1, 1989 is copyrighted and protected whether it has a notice or not. The default you should assume for other people’s works is that they are copyrighted and may not be copied unless you know other wise. There are some old works that lost protection without notice, but frankly you should not risk it unless you know for sure. It is true that a notice strengthens the protection, by warning people, and by allowing one to get more and different damages, but it is not necessar y. If it look s copyrighted, you should assume it is. This applies to pictures, too. You may not scan pict ures from magazines and post them to the net, and if you come upon something unknown, you shouldn’t post that either.


The correct form for a notice is: “Copyright [dates] by [author/owner]” You can use C in a circle © instead of “Copyright” but “(C)” has never been given legal force. The phrase “A ll Rights Reser ved ” used to be required in some nations but is now not legally needed most places. In some countries it may help preser ve some of the “moral rights.” 2) If I don’t charge for it, it’s not a violation.

False. Whether you charge can affect the damages awarded in court, but that’s main difference under the law. It’s still a violation if you give it away -- and there can still be serious damages if you hurt the commercial value of the propert y. There is a USA exception for personal copying of music, which is not a violation, though courts seem to have said that doesn’t include widescale anonymous personal copying as Napster. If the work has no commercial value, the violation is mostly technical and is unlikely to result in legal action. Fair use determinations (see below) do sometimes depend on the involvement of money. 3) If it’s posted to Usenet it’s in the

public domain. False. Nothing modern and creative is in the public domain anymore unless the owner explicitly puts it in the public domain(*). Explicitly, as in you have a note from the author/owner saying, “I grant this to the public domain.” Those exact words or words ver y much like them.

Some argue that posting to Usenet implicitly grants permission to ever ybody to copy the posting within fairly wide bounds, and others feel that Usenet is an automatic store and for ward net work where all the thousands of copies made are done at the command (rather than the consent) of the poster. This is a matter of some debate, but even if the former is true (and in this writer’s opinion we should all pray it isn’t true) it simply would suggest posters are implicitly granting permissions “ for the sort of copying one might expect when one posts to Usenet” and in no case is this a placement of material into the public domain. It is important to remember that when it comes to the law, computers never make copies, only human beings make copies. Computers are given commands, not permission. Only people can be given permission. Furthermore it is ver y diff icult for an implicit licence to supersede an explicitly stated licence that the copier was aware of. Note that all this assumes the poster had the right to post the item in the f irst place. If the poster didn’t, then all the copies are pirated, and no implied licence or theoretical reduction of the copyright can take place.


cop y right l a c o p y r i g h t y w i s m o s t ly c i v i l l a w . c h a r g e d w i o u w o u l d u s u a l ly g e t I f y o u v i o l a t e sued , no t b th a crime . e

Copyrights can expire after a long time, putting something into the public domain, and there are some f ine points on this issue regarding older copyright law versions. However, none of this applies to material from the modern era, such as net postings. Not e that g r a nt i ng something to the public domain is a complete abandonment of all rights. You can’t make something “PD for non-commercial use.” If your work is PD, other people can even modif y one by te and put their name on it. You might want to look into Creative Commons style licences if you want to grant wide rights. 4) My posting was just fair use!

See EFF notes on fair use and links from it for a detailed answer, but bear the following in mind:

The “ fair use” exemption to (U.S.) copyright law was created to allow things such as commentar y, parody, news reporting, research and education about copyrighted works without the permission of the author. That’s vital so that copyright law doesn’t block your freedom to express your own works only the abilit y to appropriate other people’s. Intent, and damage to the commercial value of the work are important considerations. Are you reproducing an article from the New York Times because you needed to in order to criticise the qualit y of the New York Times, or because you couldn’t f ind time to write your own stor y, or didn’t want your readers to have to register at the New York Times web site? The f irst is probably fair use, the others probably aren’t. Fair use is generally a short excerpt and almost always attributed. (One should not use much more of the work than is needed to make the commentar y.) It should not harm the commercial value of the work in the sense of people no longer needing to buy it (which is another reason why reproduction of the entire work is a problem.) Famously, copying just 300 words from Gerald Ford ’s 200,000 word memoir for a magazine article was ruled as not fair use, in spite of it being ver y newsworthy, because it was the most important 300 words why he pardoned Nixon. Note that most inclusion of text in followups and replies is for commentar y, and it doesn’t damage the commercial value of the original posting (if it has any) and as such it is almost surely fair use. Fair use isn’t an exact doctrine, though. The court decides if the right to comment overrides the copyright on an indiv idual basis in each case. There have been cases that go beyond the bounds of what I say above, but in general they don’t apply to the t ypical net misclaim of fair use.

The “ fair use” concept varies from countr y to countr y, and has different names (such as “ fair dealing” in Canada) and other limitations outside the USA. Facts and ideas can’t be copyrighted, but their expression and structure can. You can always write the facts in your own words though See the DMCA alert for recent changes in the law. 5) If you don’t defend your copyright

you lose it. Somebody else has that name copyrighted! False. Copyright is effectively never lost these days, unless explicitly given away. You also can’t “copyright a name” or anything short like that, such as almost all titles. You may be thinking of trade marks, which apply to names, and can be weakened or lost if not defended.


ed , bu t t h g i r y p o c can’ t be s a e d i d n a an. c e r fa c t s u t c u r t and s expression

You generally trademark terms by using them to refer to your brand of a generic t ype of product or ser vice. Like a “Delta” airline. Delta Airlines “owns” that word applied to air travel, even though it is also an ordinar y word. Delta Hotels owns it when applied to hotels. (This case is fairly unusual as both are travel companies. Usually the industries are more distinct.) Neither owns the word on its own, only in context, and owning a mark doesn’t mean complete control -- see a more detailed treatise on this law for details. You can’t use somebody else’s trademark in a way that would steal the value of the mark, or in a way that might make people confuse you with the real owner of the mark, or which might allow you to prof it from the mark ’s good name. For example, if I were giving advice on music videos, I would be ver y war y of tr ying to label my works with a name like “mt v.” :-) You can use marks to critcise or parody the holder, as long as it’s clear you aren’t the holder.

6) If I make up my own stories, but base them on another work, my new work belongs to me. False. U.S. Copyright law is quite explicit that the making of what are called “ derivative works” works based or derived from another copyrighted work is the exclusive province of the owner of the original work. This is true even though the mak ing of these new works is a highly creative process. If you write a stor y using settings or characters from somebody else’s work, you need that author’s permission. Yes, that means almost all “ fan f iction” is arguably a copyright violation. If you want to publish a stor y about Jim Kirk and Mr. Spock, you need Paramount’s permission, plain and simple. Now, as it turns out, many, but not all holders of popular copyrights turn a blind eye to “ fan f iction” or even subtly encourage it because it helps them. Make no mistake, however, that it is entirely up to them whether to do that.There is a major exception -- criticism and parody. The fair use provision says that if you want to make fun of something like Star Trek, you don’t need their permission to include Mr. Spock. This is not a loophole; you can’t just take a non-parody and claim it is one on a technicalit y. The way “ fair use” works is you get sued for copyright in f r ingement, and you admit you did copy, but that your copying was a fair use. A subjective jud g ment on, a mong other things, your goals, is then made. However, it’s also worth noting that a court has never ruled on this issue, because fan f iction cases always get settled quickly when the defendant is a fan of limited means sued by a powerful publishing company. Some argue that completely non-commercial fan f iction might be declared a fair use if courts get to decide. You can read more.


7) They can’t get me, defendants in court have powerful rights! Copyright law is mostly civil law. If you violate copyright you would usually get sued, not be charged with a crime. “Innocent until proven guilt y” is a principle of criminal law, as is “proof beyond a reasonable doubt.” Sorr y, but in copyright suits, these don’t apply the same way or at all. It’s mostly which side and set of evidence the judge or jur y accepts or believes more, though the rules var y based on the t ype of infringement. In civil cases you can even be made to testif y against your own interests. 8) Oh, so copyright violation isn’t a crime or anything? Actually, in the 90s in the USA commercial copyright violation involving more than 10 copies and value over $2500 was made a felony. So watch out. (At least you get the protections of criminal law.) On the other hand, don’t think you’re going to get people thrown in jail for posting your E-mail. The courts have much better things to do. This is a fairly new, untested statute. In one case an operator of a pirate BBS that didn’t charge was acquited because he didn’t charge, but congress amended the law to cover that.


Image courtesy of Kim Diaz

9) It doesn’t hurt anybody in fact it’s free advertising. It’s up to the owner to decide if they want the free ads or not. If they want them, they will be sure to contact you. Don’t rationalize whether it hurts the owner or not, ask them. Usually that’s not too hard to do. Time past, ClariNet published the ver y funny Dave Barr y column to a large and appreciative Usenet audience for a fee, but some person didn’t ask, and for warded it to a mailing list, got caught, and the newspaper chain that employs Dave Barr y pulled the column from the net, pissing off ever ybody who enjoyed it. Even if you can’t think of how the author or owner gets hurt, think about the fact that piracy on the net hurts ever ybody who wants a chance to use this wonderful new technolog y to do more than read other people’s f lamewars. 10) They e -mailed me a copy, so I can post it. To have a copy is not to have the copyright. A ll the E-mail you write is copyrighted. However, E-mail is not, unless previously agreed, secret. So you can certainly report on what E-mail you are sent, and reveal what it says. You can even quote parts of it to demonstrate. Frankly, somebody who sues over an ordinar y message would almost surely get no damages, because the message has no commercial value, but if you want to stay strictly in the law, you should ask f irst. On the other hand, don’t go nuts if somebody posts E-mail you sent them. If it was an ordinar y non-secret personal letter of minimal commercial value with no copyright notice (like 99.9% of all E-mail), you probably won’t get any damages if you sue them. Note as well that, the law aside, keeping private correspondence private is a courtesy one should usually honour.

11) So I can’t ever reproduce anything? Myth #11 (I didn’t want to change the now famous title of this article) is actually one sometimes generated in response to this list of 10 myths. No, copyright isn’t an iron-clad lock on what can be published. Indeed, by many arguments, by providing reward to authors, it encourages them to not just allow, but fund the publication and distribution of works so that they reach far more people than they would if they were free or unprotected and unpromoted. However, it must be remembered that copyright has t wo main purposes, namely the protection of the author’s right to obtain commercial benef it from valuable work, and more recently the protection of the author’s general right to control how a work is used. While copyright law makes it technically illegal to reproduce almost any new creative work (other than under fair use) without permission, if the work is unregistered and has no real commercial value, it gets ver y little protection.

The author in this case can sue for an injunction against the publication, actual damages from a violation, and possibly court costs. Actual damages means actual money potentially lost by the author due to publication, plus any money gained by the defendant. But if a work has no commercial value, such as a t ypical E-mail message or conversational USENET posting, the actual damages will be zero. Only the most vindictive (and rich) author would sue when no damages are possible, and the courts don’t look kindly on vindictive plaintiffs, unless the defendants are even more vindictive. The author’s right to control what is done with a work, however, has some validit y, even if it has no commercial value. If you feel you need to violate a copyright “ because you can get away with it because the work has no value” you should ask yourself why you’re doing it. In general, respecting the rights of creators to control their creations is a principle many advocate adhering to. In addition, while quite often people make incorrect claims of “ fair use” it is a still valid and important concept necessar y to allow the criticism of copyrighted works and their creators through examples. It’s also been extended to allow things like home recording of T V shows and moving music from CDs you own to your MP3 player. But please read more about it before you do it.




Gonna Do


if it Doesn’t Pay

It Anyway Mary Simmons

in the aftermath of the collapse of

Image courtesy of Kevin Zolkiewicz

I can get a tip jar Gas up the car Try to make a little change Down at the bar. Or I can get a straight job I’ve done it before Never minded working hard It’s who I’m working for.

-Gillian Welch, “Everything is Free”

the Stop Online Piracy Act, a number of people have been revisiting the question of whether something needs to be done about further protecting copyright owners against digital misappropriation of their works, even if this particular legislation wasn’t it. Speaking for the “no” camp, Tim Lee says “most of us are not anti-copyright; we just think enough is enough, and that the menu of enforcement tools Congress has already given to copyright holders is more than sufficient.” Jerry Brito takes things a step further: “Sufficient for what?...I think that [Mr Lee] means sufficient to provide an incentive to create. After all, the purpose of copyright is to ‘promote the progress of science,’ not to protect some Lockean notion of property.” He argues that people are still creating. Kevin Drum, however, thinks this argument, which is often made by digital freedom advocates, is just philosophically wrong, and that at a fundamental level, “authors have a moral right to profit from their works”:

“the constitution says that the purpose of patents and copyright is to “promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts,” but the fact that the Constitution says this doesn’t mean it’s the only reason to grant patents and copyrights. There’s another reason too: because creators have a moral right to profit from their works. In real life, pretty much everyone acts as if they believe this, and I suspect that for most of us it’s the real underpinning of our support for IP law.”


Image courtesy of Luis Sarabia

this is heavy stuff, because it’s really

but legal traditions are one thing,

it’s true that people are continuing

not the foundation of Anglo-Saxon copyright law. It is, to a greater extent, embedded in European copyright law. In the Anglo-Saxon common-law tradition of which America partakes, the purpose of copyright really is held to be promoting science and the arts, and hence copyright is treated like any other sort of property: once you sell it to someone else, it’s theirs, and you have no further say over it. In civil-law Europe, meanwhile, things are more complicated. The European Copyright Code displays traces of the idea that authors have an innate right to a revenue stream from their work. The French established “resale rights” for works of art, where creators continue to reap a small royalty from resales of their paintings and so forth even after they’ve sold it. And on the non-commercial side, authors continue to have “moral rights” in a work even after they’ve assigned the commercial rights to someone else. These include the right to be named as the author and the right to the integrity of the presentation of the work.

morality is another. Do artists have a moral right to be paid by those who enjoy their creations? I think, as Mr Drum says, that we do recognise such a right in a loose communal sense. When we’re standing in a crowd watching a street performer and the hat is passed, it seems churlish not to put something in. The key there is that being in a socially visible setting creates a collective pressure to do the right thing. And, in fact, the rise of digital copying has coincided with an explosion in street performance, which increasingly seems like a more viable way for an artist to make a living than the attempt to score a hit recording.

to produce extraordinary amounts of great pop music, probably more than ever before, even though it’s increasingly difficult to get paid for it. You could characterise this as part of a growing cultural intuition that the most valuable things in life are not part of the cash economy. Or you could take it in the opposite direction: as it becomes impossible to get paid for things that are recorded, we move towards an economy where actual physical presence becomes the most valuable thing, because you can charge for tickets. Gillian Welch hit this wall a decade ago, and in this song, “Everything Is Free”, you can hear her thinking it all out in terms that (even though the song is ten years old) resonate with “Occupy”-era tensions over who’s doing the work, who’s getting the money, and what’s really important in life. “Someone hit the big score, they figured it out/that we’re gonna do it anyway, even if it doesn’t pay.” And then, on the other end: “But I’ve figured it out: I’m gonna do it anyway, even if it doesn’t pay.” The cheers from that audience when this line is sung are the sound of people hearing their own buried anxieties and possible tacit convictions voiced. We’re living in a social moment where, more than usually, money has come unglued from value. We’re having to remake the relationship, and for some creative people, the remaking seems to involve a decision to drop out.

ringling college of art and design

fonts Pompadour Black, Bulmer MT, Futura, Grotesque MT, Bodoni, Baskerville, BellGothic, Big Caslon, Clarendon, Minion Pro, Franchise, Wisdom Script.


Designing With Typography II, April 2012


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