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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!
Copyright Infringement Statistics Copyright infringement statistics, by most standards are inflated. Most recent copyright infringement statistics cite that almost 30 percent of software is pirated in the United States of America. This means that they think 30 percent of the software on your computer is illegal? they think we?re all thieves, to an extent. However, copyright holders have good reason to worry that we?re violating their rules: the number of suspects referred to the United States attorneys with an Intellectual Property lead charge increased twenty six percent in the period between 2002 and 2004 ? and there have been studies that show that this is rising. Copyright infringement statistics are difficult to come by, but it?s plain to see it?s affecting every aspect of intellectual copy. Copyright infringement statistics show that in addition to software privacy, there are a lot of violations in the music world. Copyright infringement statistics show that many unsuspecting people, from college students to thirty-something a professional, download music on a consistent basis, and often it?s not downloaded legally. Often times, someone will download a song off a MySpace or YouTube page, without giving thought to who really owns the copyright and if it?s legal for them to have it. Copyright infringement statistics, brought to us by the music recording industry, would have us believe that online infringement is seriously hurting the recording industry. A sensible person, however, would realize that with the abundance of MP3 sales sites that this will turn quickly and recording giants will see the huge profits available online. It?s already begun, you see, we have yet to see the impact of online music sales, and how it will increase revenue. I?m sure, with the huge talent pool at their disposal, the media giants will find a way to monetize the internet to their fullest advantage. Copyright infringement statistics also show that many people are downloading games off the internet. With the litany of games available to us ? from complete alternate worlds such as World of Warcraft to the more mainstream ?The Sims? series, people are clamoring for PC games ? and for good reason. They?re fun, intelligent games that play on a system everyone has ? a computer. Because of this, people are always looking for new games to play and download, and they may download a game without knowing that it?s not ?freeware? (as many internet games are). In addition to computer games, copyright infringement statistics also show that movies are downloaded in abundance on the internet. Many peer to peer file distribution sites and programs (such as bit torrent or Kazaa) allow for the transfer of very large files, and they?re easy to find online. Using a tool provided by one of many suppliers, users can search for any item they like ? and, of course, the system is abused and people download copyrighted movies and entire DVDs instead of publicly available works. Copyright infringement also branches into written works, such as articles, books, poems, etc. Many times, a student will copy a paragraph or two without realizing the implications of such copying. While they may think of it as ?borrowing?, if it?s used on a grander scale, the person could be opening themselves up to a large court fight, especially if it?s used commercially. As you can see, copyright infringement statistics show us that many people are using copyrighted works illegally. Do your best diligence when using another?s work ? and ask for permission every time you want to use something that you haven?t created. Chances are, if you just ask the question up front you?ll save yourself from becoming another copyright infringement statistic and save yourself from a major lawsuit.
Sync your Technology with Free Organizers Found on the Net Are you looking to simplify your online presence? Do you want an easy way to keep social and business contacts organized accordingly? Do you wish you had an easy way to keep track of your different online passwords, your favorite websites and manage your life away for the computer? There are now many options for those seeking to sync their technology with their Internet life. Here are some fast and easy resources that allow you to sync your technology with your online presence. Many of these organizers make it possible for you to keep track of your web activity with your life away from the computer. Here is a quick run-down of just some of the free organizers and resources that are available on the net that can help make your life easier. Using Planner.Excite.com to Organize Your Technology There are so many organization tools these days?personal digital assistants, outlook email, smart phones, mp3 players and several others coming out every season. Many of us use several different disparate electronic planners to organize work, school, business and home. Work email, calendars and planners often overlap with personal business, school and home calendars. Wouldn't it be nice to have all of your meetings, dates, appointments and contact numbers organized in a single area? This is where Planner.Excite.com comes in. This service allows you to sync all the information on your palm pilot, pda, outlook and smart phone so that you don't have to enter the same information more than once. Moreover, it allows you to sync different schedules?work, home, business, family and school?into one master schedule that is easy to follow. Other organizational tools include email and pager reminders so that you never miss another event, date or appointment again. Organize Your Online Discussions with Delphi Do you like to hold web-based discussions or send messages for business or social purposes? If so, delphi.com is an advanced web-based messaging service that allows you easy access to threaded discussions. You can choose to keep your threaded discussions public, or protect them with a password. It's up to you. This is a great and secure way to organize your online conversations and discussions. For Easy Event Planning, Choose Evite.com Are you looking for an easy way to use the World Wide Web to organize your events? If so, turn to Evite.com, the place for electronic events and event planning. Evite.com is an easy and free service that allows you to organize all kinds of events, from baby and wedding showers to surprise birthday parties. This is an easy way to keep in touch with all your online friends and family. It is simple to use?simply create your own attractive electronic invitation and email it to everyone on your invite list. The site allows you to create and personalize your own electronic invitations using their templates. Palm.net Allows You to Sync Your Whole Life Ever wish your personal digital assistant allowed you to sync up your whole life? Palm.net allows you to do just this. This online organizer works with your handheld organizer in order to help you organize and schedule your whole life, including what's playing on television, your local movie theater, local sporting events and other activities. Organize Your Files with Visto.com What is Visto.com? This website is a calendar and task manager that allows you to organize all of your disparate files. This is a great way to organize files, especially if you work from different computers or simply need a new and easy way to store files. Choose from online file storage and organize and sync your work and home Visto files.
Copyright Music Infringement Copyright Music Infringement is Not Preferred Method for Music Lovers In recent years, copyright music infringement has seen an unprecedented leap in scope and scale. This is largely due to online services that allowed unchecked file sharing among their subscribers. While this abuse of copyright is not by any means limited to music, this is where the most profound effects of file sharing have been observed. Industry giants of file sharing are cropping up left and right with the demise of the pioneer for illicit file sharing, Napster. The Recording Industry Association of America (or RIAA) has made copyright music infringement their primary cause to fight. They estimate that peer-to-peer file sharing takes around 4.2 billion dollars each year worldwide from the coffers of the music industry. I really cannot blame them that is a fairly large chunk of change. The problem with their estimates however is the assumption that people would actually buy every piece of music they download or that they aren't buying the music they would have bought at any rate. While I by no means condone copyright music infringement or any other copyright infringement I do believe they are overestimating the damage to the industry that is being done by these file-sharing programs. One of the primary arguments that the RIAA is using in order to, hopefully, discourage people from not supporting their favorite groups and artists by buying their recordings, is the fact that new and struggling bands are less likely to continue making music because it will no longer be profitable. The bulk of musician's incomes are the result of royalties, which depend entirely on the sales of their albums. The RIAA is using the legal system to back them up by taking the fight to court. Recent claims made by the RIAA include one rather controversial claim that people ripping CDs they have bought and paid for does not constitute fair use because CDs are not "unusually subject to damage" and that if they do become damaged they can be replaced affordably. This assertion has raised more than a few eyebrows and is giving rise to opponents of the RIAA who claim that the lawsuits and crackdowns against those presumed guilty of copyright music infringement are actually hurting music sales and the profits of the music industry. During the height of Napster popularity (the hallmark by which all file sharing seems to be compared) CD sales were at their highest rate ever. People were exposed to music and groups they otherwise may not have heard without file sharing. As a result of enjoying the music by these groups people went out and actually bought the CDs of the music they enjoyed. It's ironic that the very lawsuits designed to stop copyright music infringement have actually managed to stifle file sharing enough that CD sales are dropping noticeably around the world. Opponents and critics also challenge that rather than being a source of copyright music infringement, peer 2 peer networks offer unprecedented exposure for new artists and their music. Another argument against the RIAA is that the real reason for the lawsuits against file sharer is because they want to keep the prices for CDs over inflated while keeping the actual royalties coming to the artists relatively low. The copyright music infringement claims made by the RIAA have become suspect. The music industry is currently working on ways where fans can legally download music. This will mean that fans have access to the music they love from their PCs and directly to their music playing devices without resorting to illegal copyright music infringement. The truth is that most people want to do the right thing and given viable alternative will elect to do so.