Clearing Your Confusion Between the Myths and Facts About Copyright

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Copyright is the ownership of intellectual property within the confines prescribed by a national or international law. Here are some common myths and facts related to copyright.

The Copyright Act of 1709 or The Statute of Anne is considered to be the first full-fledged copyright law that was enacted in 1709 and enforced on 10 April, 1710, in Britain. The law was established to encourage learning and maximize knowledge.

The law provides the proprietor an exclusive right to print, distribute, and copy the work. Anyone who wants to reuse the work has to take the proprietor’s permission. According to the law, as soon as any original work is created, the copyright is automatically given to its author.

Though the author need not have to formally register the work, the registration makes the copyright more apparent. It is applicable to any kind of work, idea, or information, which is substantive and discrete.

The Internet is undoubtedly one of the most significant developments in the field of international communication and information access, but it has also become a lair of copyright abuse.

The concept of freedom of information and the ease of sending, copying and distributing messages on the Internet has created a delusive impression that the text and graphical materials on websites, news groups, email lists, and other electronic channels are exempt from copyright statutes.

Therefore, despite knowing different facts about copyrighting, there are many myths about copyrights, or misconceptions about copyrights, that people often come across while accessing information on the net. Copyright laws on the Internet should be kept in mind, and adhered to, while using the web for research and other such projects.

Myths and Facts About Copyright

Here, we introduce you to the most common myths about copyright and give you the associated facts.

Myth #1: “If it doesn’t have a copyright notice, it’s not copyrighted.”
Fact #1: While earlier all original material needed to have this notice, now nearly all big nations follow the Berne Copyright Intervention. For example, in USA anything created confidentially and originally after April 1, 1989, is copyrighted regardless of it having a notice or not.

Therefore, by default, one should assume work created by other people is already copyrighted and should not be copied. Though there are some old works that may have lost their copyright protection, it is better not to take the risk involved unless you are sure about it.

Myth #2: “If I don’t charge for it, it’s not a violation.”
Fact #2: Even if you just give it away, it is still a violation especially if you hurt the commercial value of the work. If the work has no commercial value, the damage is mainly technical and will rarely result in a legal action.

Myth #3: “If you don’t defend your copyright you lose it.” — “Somebody has that name copyrighted!”
Fact #3: Practically a copyright cannot be lost unless it is given up explicitly by the owner. In fact, you can’t copyright a name or even a title.

In case of trademarks, you can’t use someone else’s trademark, especially if it steals the value of the mark. It may also confuse you with the actual owner of the mark.

Myth #4: “If I make up my own stories, but base them on another work, my new work belongs to me.”

Fact #4: The U.S. Copyright law is quite explicit that making derivative work, i.e. work based on another copyrighted work is the exclusive province of the proprietor of the original work. Therefore, if you are writing a story or article using characters from someone else’s work you have to take that writer’s permission.

Myth #5: “They e-mailed me a copy, so I can post it.”
Fact #5: Having a copy doesn’t mean you have the copyright. You can surely report on the e-mail you have been sent and reveal what it says. If someone sues you over an ordinary message which has no commercial value, he will get no damages.

Myth #6: “It doesn’t hurt anybody — in fact it’s free advertising.”
Fact #6: This is completely up to the owners whether they want free ads or not, and if they want the same, they will definitely contact you. Don’t justify whether this will hurt them or not, just ask.

These copyright myths and their associated facts will enable you to have a better and clear understanding of copyrights and copyrighting material. According to the Copyright Act of 1976, the copyright of an original and creative work extends 50 years beyond the life span of its author or writer.

Some of the works that come under the copyright protection act are journalistic reports, theatrical scripts, computer software, architectural designs, multimedia digital creations, literature, etc.

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