Copyright Law Fairy Tales

What is the number one violation of law committed on the Internet? Copyright violations – by a long shot! Why is this such a wide-spread problem? People are uneducated and misinformed. Don’t get caught believing one of the following fairy tales:

1. “It’s not like I’m committing a crime.”

Actually, in the United States, commercial copyright violation involving more than 10 copies and value over $2500.00 was made a felony.

2. “They won’t complain – it is just free advertising.”

The rule of thumb should be to ask an owner of a copyright work before engaging in any kind of reproduction of the work. Believe it or not, there are many people who do not want to accept “free advertising”.

3. “It didn’t have a copyright notice, so I know it is not copyrighted.”

Thanks to the Berne Convention, all new and original works (which qualify for copyright protection) created after April of 1989 receive copyright protection whether they post notice of it or not.

Therefore, you should always assume that every “work” is copyright protected, whether the owner is posting notice or not. Posting notice looks like this – Copyright (date(s) of publication) by (owner or creator of work).

4. “I don’t charge for it, so it is not a copyright violation.”

Although, charging or not charging for access to a copyrighted work can affect the amount of damages awarded in court, you do not have to charge for a work in order to violate it’s copyright. Giving away someone else’s copyrighted work is most likely a violation. (The exception would be cases of “fair use”).

5. “They have not been enforcing/defending their copyright, so they lost it.”

There is no requirement to enforce or defend a copyright. Copyright can never be “lost”. Copyright can be given away, but this requires the specific and explicit granting of the copyright to another.

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