Copyright Simply Explained - Please Read!

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Copyright Simply Explained - Please Read!

Post  Lady Arabella on Mon Jul 18, 2011 7:10 pm

The following is an archive of material originally posted on the Harry Potter Lexicon Forum, hosted by World Crossing, which ceased operations on April 15th, 2011
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Kip's copyright explanation

Post  Lady Arabella on Mon Jul 18, 2011 7:11 pm


Copyright Simply Explained - Please Read!
Kip Carter - Jun 21, 2009 2:07 am

Edited Jun 26, 2009 2:50 am

Before I approach a simple explanation of Copyright Law, I need to first provide some additional comments.

Many years ago, when this Forum was first created and when I was really studying the operations and limitations of World Crossing (WX), I encountered a gentleman, who hosted a very interesting forum that really understood the inter-workings of the system at WX. His username is Oberon and I recommended our Hosts and others to visit his forum to learn a more-in-depth understanding of the system. Oberon has many skills and it may be best that I only mention one right now, that of a professional photographer.

Over the years, his forum has changed with a lot of excellent discussions and threads, now vanished, often due to the problems with WX; however he still exists. Earlier this month, I was reading through some of his threads and found an excellent explanation on the Copyright Laws. I asked permission to use his explanation and have been granted the right to post that explanation here. I will include his entire Jan 15, 2008 7:28 pm post, which was a part of an on-going discussion; therefore do not be confused with the way his message reads. Please read this very carefully so that our posts on this Forum do not infringe the Copyright Laws.

It's sort of like the situation with Model Releases. You need one in order to sell the use of an image of someone who posed for you. If you don't have one, then telling the court that they never told you that you *couldn't* sell the image isn't going to get you off the hook. You have to have the Model Release and it needs to be in writing. With that, you're legal; without that you're not. And it's the same with copyrights. If you have written permission to use the image, then you're legal; if you don't have written permission, then it's not legal.

An image is copyrighted the instant that the shutter clicks, regardless of whether or not the copyright is of any interest to you. There is a right to make copies (the copyright!) and that right initially belongs to you. You can do lots of things, including granting others limited usage and even selling the copyright entirely, but the one thing you can't do is to destroy the copyright, not in any legal sense. It exists until it expires.

The right to make copies is much more inclusive than most people even imagine as it includes "derivations". A classic case was the suit filed by a photographer against a ceramic artist. The photographer had made an image of two people holding a bunch of puppies in their combined arms. The ceramic artist made a similar image in ceramic. The ceramic artist lost the suit. It was a "derivation" and was in violation of copyright law. Similarly, if you start with a photo of someone elses and make, say, a pencil sketch from it, *even if for your own, private use*, you've just violated copyright law.

Most folk don't know copyright law from their mother-in-law's backside. There's a lot of "folk wisdom" about copyright out there -- and it's all dead wrong.

The (very simple) bottom line is that if you want to use someone else’s image, in whole or in part, or any derivations thereof, in any fashion whatsoever, for any reason whatsoever, for any audience including *none*, then you have to have permission or else you're violating copyright law.

As for copyright notice: It's not required. It's totally optional. It's put there to slow down those folks who (in all innocence) would otherwise take the image, thinking that it was not copyrighted. It was, but some folk don't know that, so you have to spell it out. It's as if you put a sign on the door to your house: "No Trespassing". You see, even without the sign there, it was always illegal to trespass. You only need the sign if your neighbors are pretty dumb!

Registering a copyright is a formality that you *can* go through and which increases the penalties for violating copyright law. Copyright exists with or without registering. It's only a question of how much you can sue for. Without registering you can only sue for actual damages. With registering you can sue for actual damages plus trebel punitive damages plus court costs. But, either way, it's copyrighted!

I hope this makes sense; however if you still have problems, please post them here.

I also need to add that in my recent emails with Oberon, he added the following comments:

Those writings are a couple of years old, and mostly based on knowledge from back when I ran a photography studio, and the thinking about copyright laws *appears* to be shifting since then. The definitions of "fair use" and "derivative works" seem to be at issue. Back when I wrote what I wrote, I also did a bunch of web research, reading tons of opinions by copyright lawyers, and them summed it together with what I'd learned from photography seminars on copyright. Doing that research again *might* reveal a new slant in legal interpretation. Maybe. Dunno. But recent news articles do seem to indicate a possible shift.

I'm more-or-less following the news stories to see what the final judgements are. There's one in particular that was, based on everything I understood, an open-and-shut case of infringement based on being a derivative work. Oh , yeah -- I remember. It's the guy who did that poster of Obama that was (clearly) derived from a photo. But it isn't clear that the poster maker is going to lose this one. If he does win then there's definitely been a shift!

Most of this discussion has been based on photos; however it is not limited to that portion only. Replace the word "photo" with any of original product, such as image, drawing, written word, spoken word, music, etc. and you can easily see the impact of copyright law.

Most recently on Yahoo news, there was a story about a Minnesota woman loosing a case twice concerning her "borrowing" music. The judgment was huge in favor of the record industry and could be the basis for more law issues in the future.

My point is to be very aware of what you use in a post on this Forum. I do not ever want legal action to damage the good this Forum has accomplished.

Thanks for your patience in reading this.

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Commentary

Post  Lady Arabella on Mon Jul 18, 2011 7:12 pm


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Solitaire - Jun 21, 2009 9:10 am (#1 of 15)

I am wondering about the little "chat icons" I use in birthday greetings, usually from mommiescamelot.com/forum/misc.php?do=showsmilies or christian-mommies.com/forumsv4/misc.php?do=showsmilies. You will note that these sites all use the same images, so they can't all have copyrighted them. Is it a problem to use these?

FYI, there is a site with a lot of HP gifs--[You must be registered and logged in to see this link.] are free for forums to use. He just asks to be notified him by email. These might be interesting to add to our available smilies. Just a thought ...

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Kip Carter - Jun 21, 2009 9:56 am (#2 of 15)
Edited Jun 21, 2009 11:00 am

Solitaire, I looked over the three sites that you mention in your post above and found each differs in how they handle your use of their images. You need to look at the conditions of each and determine how you are affected. I wish I had the time to really do the necessary research right now, but I do not. I felt on a quick scan that their agreements or conditions for use are simple and straight-forward; however that is just a quick analysis and remember I am not a copyright lawyer. I wish I could add more right.

For those members who do not understand the purpose of discussion on this thread, please refer to my post on the Chat thread.

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Madam Pince - Jun 21, 2009 7:52 pm (#3 of 15)
Edited Jun 21, 2009 8:55 pm

Kip, I apologize for not responding to your earlier post on the Chat thread... I didn't realize what you were addressing and that you were expecting responses.

As for my avatar, I have no idea where it came from, so I suppose, according to what it sounds like you were posting, that I am in violation of some sort of copyright. As I recall, I got it originally many years ago by following the advice of a then-Forumer, Madame Librarian, who said she googled "library books" and then clicked "images" when the search results came up, which gives you tons of images of the subject matter. I saved the picture I came across onto my computer, (right-clicked "save picture as") and the original link is long-since lost, I guess, because now on my computer it just says "eyeglasses avatar.jpg." As I recall, the image was some sort of clip-art, which is why I assumed it was OK to use, I think, but my memory may be faulty. I just tried to find it online again by searching "eyes" and "eyeglasses" but had no luck. There are billions of result hits, though, and I may not have looked far enough, I guess.

For me personally, I am not worried about being sued, but if you prefer that I remove my avatar to protect the interests of the forum, I would be glad to do so -- just let me know! (Well, not really "glad," but I'd do it anyway... )

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me and my shadow 813 - Jun 21, 2009 8:15 pm (#4 of 15)

Hi Kip. I will remove my avatar right now from this forum and fanfic as I randomly "lifted" them from the world that is wide and web

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Orion - Jun 22, 2009 4:51 am (#5 of 15)

There are lawyers in Germany who make a good living by scanning the net and randomly sue users for pics. Dangerous! And there are also people who put innocent pics on the net and multi-link them. For example the author of an online-cookbook includes lots of pics of boring things like apples or tomatoes and then she creates masses and masses of links to these pics.

So then if you google "apple" you get this apple as one of the first entries and if you include it in a post of yours Mrs. Author sues you. Also very dangerous.

Sometimes I paint pictures off pics I found on the net but now I realise I can actually never exhibit them. Too bad.

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Choices - Jun 22, 2009 6:50 am (#6 of 15)

My avatar is a "Solitaire" creation (which I love using and thank her for making for me), but I will remove it if she so directs. Copy? Right!

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John Bumbledore - Jun 22, 2009 7:17 am (#7 of 15)

Alas, my Avatar I liked it much. I have removed the image I was using as it might have been a derivative of another image.

Okay, perhaps if I duck down I will hide in the crowd and not be notice by the copyright police... (Not speaking of the friendly fellow who posts here in red) who are sometimes compared to "sharks."

(I respect all fellow members here who I know and would never suggest "sharks" be applied to any of them even if they share the same or similar profession as others who behave like the sea bound predator).

I heard talk around the office at work about a copyright settlement that had an outrageous $ settlement against a common person. Does anyone have more details?

I shall take some of my lunch time and find an image I own to use as a member portrait (i.e. avatar).

One last though on images and marketing: would a counter claim for "marketing services provided" by the use of an image be a viable idea? Impish thought, I know. I'd say, "Use of movie character images as avatars provides marketing visibility to the copyright holders targeted audience and would provide an enhancement to box-office sales." But my opinions, though sounding logical, reasonable, and compelling to me are not often viewed as such by others. Say la vee (in a badly broken French, my apology to Audrey and her compatriots).

--John

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Solitaire - Jun 22, 2009 9:40 am (#8 of 15)

Choices, I made that for you to use here, you silly girl!

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Kip Carter - Jun 22, 2009 11:34 am (#9 of 15)

John, I know you were playing with the language when you posted "Say la vee ..." and I am sure you realize the phrase is really "c'est la vie", meaning "that's life".

To everyone else, I think each of you are starting to understand a little bit of why I have some concerns over some of our images. When I have the time, I will provide better answers.

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journeymom - Jun 22, 2009 11:43 am (#10 of 15)
Edited Jun 22, 2009 12:52 pm

John said on the chat thread, Makani would need permission from the makers of Sponge Bob, as Snapeward would be a derivative work from a character in that show and also permission from Jo and WB for her character.

Here's my understanding. Makani does *credit* Nickelodeon on her web site as the owner of Squidward. She doesn't need *permission* from Nickelodeon to use it in her original art, as she does not gain financially from her use of the image. Maybe Nickelodeon could make a point of it and sue her and Nick simply is choosing not to.

As far as Makani needing JKR's permission (or Warner Bros? Scholastic? Mary Grand Pre? Who??) to create an image of Snape... I don't know. Her estimation of what Snape looks like comes out of her own head, her own imagination. I would hope she can't be punished for sharing what she thinks a goofy combination of Snape and Squidward Tentacles looks like.

Same as Nick, maybe JKR or Warner Bros could push it and sue Makani and the innumerable artists out there who have created cute little icons and avatars based upon the HP product, but are simply choosing not to.

Shepard Fairey didn't bother to get permission from AP Photos to use that photo of Obama until it was too late.

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John Bumbledore - Jun 22, 2009 1:43 pm (#11 of 15)

Ah, Journeymom, I wasn't calling you out. It was the third paragraph of Oberon's post that kip included in the opening post of this thread that seems counter to your or her assertion about Nickelodeon and Squidward's image.

I guess the point is that it is such slippery stuff to grasp, like an invisibility cloak feels like water slipping through your hands.

My avatar (white haired wizard) was a low resolution sample of a larger photo that I then altered to remove background details. To me it is analogous to sampling part of a song and using it in a new arrangement. That is something I thought was permitted by the court rulings back in the 1980's (“Le Freak” and “Can't Touch This” come to mind with near identical melody tracks, then there is “Sweet Home Alabama” and “All Summer Long” by Kid Rock) Funny thing is I appear to be the only one who hears a similarity with Werewolves of London.

I just check using YouTube videos of Warren Zevon, Lynyrd Skynyrd, and Kid Rock.. sounds like the same melody line to me; lyrics are different but the three are like Village People for the reuse of the music..

-John

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Verity Weasley - Jun 22, 2009 8:14 pm (#12 of 15)

John, “Sweet Home Alabama” definitely 'samples' some of Werewolves of London. You are certainly not the only one to have heard it. I presume Kid Rock is paying Warren Zevon some royalties, the same way that Madonna would have had to pay Abba a few years ago when she used their melody from “Gimme Gimme Gimme.”

As for all these copyright issues, I think there is a certain amount of leeway given for internet usage. I can't imagine that it would be in anyone's interests to prosecute individual people for using an image in an avatar.

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journeymom - Jun 23, 2009 7:52 am (#13 of 15)
Edited Jun 23, 2009 8:55 am

John, I didn't think you were calling me out. Sorry that my post came across like that. I was just feeling rather passionate about the whole subject. And I needed to drag myself away from the computer and eat a sandwich before my blood sugar dropped any further. *blush*

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John Bumbledore - Jun 24, 2009 7:52 am (#14 of 15)
Edited Jun 24, 2009 8:53 am

Journeymom, I thought I used some emoticons in that post. There should have been sheepish , worried , confused , chagrin , and a grin in that post. Go ahead and pencil them in where ever you want.

Verity, I was wondering why you though Werewolves of London preceded “Sweet Home Alabama” then I saw that I listed Warren, Lynyrd, and Kid in the same order as you did. I'm no audiophile so I can't track song titles, artist, albums and the release dates. I only know what I think I heard first. I'd put them in order as SKYNYRD, Zevon, Rock. To me “Sweet Home Alabama (SHA)” has more intricate fingering notes and Werewolves follows/shares just the cords with it, but “All Summer Long” seems identical to the late Warren Zevon's melody and thus only a simple shadow of SHA. But I must say I'm a drummer and not an instrumentalist.

But to be more on topic, I did change my avatar image. I still say I was giving the movie free marketing... Hrumph!

-John

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Mrs. Sirius - Jun 25, 2009 10:07 pm (#15 of 15)
Edited Jun 25, 2009 11:09 pm

Funny thing is I appear to be the only one who hears a similarity with Werewolves of London. John Bumbledore

No John, I just yesterday told someone that I here Werewolves of London on Kid Rocks song.... (er.. ditty). While “Sweet Home Alabama” gets credit in the song and the dj who played it credited Sweet Home, I have’ heard no acknowledgment for Werewolves, which I think is the first homage music. I can't separate music out by melody, chords, etc. I just hear part of the song.

It was too late to ad to my previous post, yes those poor kids, I feel for all of them.


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