10 copyright conundrums clarified

Graham Cornish provides answers to ten tricky copyright questions in this blogpost. For further detail and answers to 851 other copyright questions see the newly-released fully up-to-date sixth edition of his classic book, Copyright: Interpreting the law for libraries, archivers and information services.

Q1. Is copyright a monopoly?US_Deluxe_Monopoly_Tokens

A. Not entirely. If two people create the same thing independently of each other  and without actually copying what the other person wrote or made (e.g. two people standing in exactly the same place taking a photograph), then both can claim copyright in what they created, even if they are identical.

Q2. Are things like trademarks and logos protected by copyright?

A. Yes. A logo is an artistic work and a trademark may well be an artistic work and/or a literary work as well. It is possible for a trademark to go out of copyright but still be a trademark as trademarks can last forever.

Flickr cc image from John Atherton

Flickr cc image from John Atherton

Q3. Who owns the copyright in a letter?

A. The author – the person who wrote the letter, not the archive that holds the letter or the recipient of the letter

Q4. Can any library make copies of literary, dramatic and musical works for preservation purposes?

A. No. They must be qualifying libraries (those that are publicly accessible, are the libraries of an educational establishment and is not owned by or part of a body which is conducted for profit).

Q5. Do people who appear in photographs have any rights over them?

A. Not under copyright law, but this is an area where particular care needs to be exercised. Although the person taking the photograph (or their employer if appropriate) owns the copyright, the use of that photograph may be restricted by other legal considerations e.g using the image of a famous person to promote a product can lead to claims of loss of revenue because the celebrity would have made a charge for having their name used in this way, even if the copyright in the photograph is owned by the person using it.

This 3d Printer is currently printing a turtle. http://www.fablabscarolinas.org/

Flickr cc image from: Keith Kissel

Q6. Will 3D printing always infringe copyright?

A. No. Many items that will be copied using 3D will not be protected by copyright e.g. items of crockery such as mugs or DIY materials such as screws or tools. They are protected by either patent or design right, if protected at all, and making a single copy is not an infringement.

Q7. Who owns the copyright in an interview?

A. The speaker owns the copyright in what is said but there is no copyright in the material until it has been recorded. Once it has been recorded the speaker owns the copyright in what has been said, but the person making the recording owns the copyright in the sound recording as such. If the interview is transcribed then the person making the transcription may also be entitled to copyright in their transcription.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/marfis75/6119436022/in/photolist-ajKH8C-9b45XN-dT63q-856aLS-dnvABk-amMHBV-6x3pc2-bD6e8F-8yZZoH-RXL7R-jV6vrh-ns17uC-bmnwzW-6CYVuw-2Yh65v-6CYVs9-qiTJR3-4gVU5C-peQjZ1-oB5Mon-33Y4jV-6QyPwR-5Ev4EF-nXPzGH-a7fAHV-a7dP1z-eBTDu-swvr53-nZSiKJ-rB1qtv-9HmR8k-5UtKpc-oKtTYY-uZuS19-oBjLAo-nwhxjV-nwAq3s-nwi9Uy-daumgp-7Z4xw1-7FAnYa-odJxRx-qTyTFp-oVNtUb-r65HkN-e97ofu-cBkLd7-a8NLKc-MCzm-m4aEF

Flickr cc image from Martin Fisch

Q8. Who is the author of a broadcast?

A. Essentially it is the person who transmits the programme if that person has any responsibility for its contents

Q9. Can databases be copied for private use like other works?

A. No. The exception for copying for private use it to copyright, not database right, and databases may not be copied for personal use. There are rules that enable some copying to take place but not on the same scale as private copying.

Q10. There are lots of websites now where individuals can post their own writings, photos, videos or recordings of songs. Are these protected by copyright?

A. Yes. Anything that you create as an individual and put up on any of these sites, chatrooms or blogs is technically your property.

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