Re. A few notes on copyright

Subject: Re. A few notes on copyright
From: geoff-h -at- MTL -dot- FERIC -dot- CA
Date: Thu, 16 May 1996 17:20:15 -0500

Bob Armao summarized some points raised at an STC conference session
on copyright. All important points, but I'd like to elaborate further:

1. The act of publishing establishes copyright and the circled-C
symbol isn't necessary: Both are true, but that's not the whole story.
If you don't _register_ your copyright and use the word "copyright"
followed by the year, you forego the rights to certain statutory
damages. The circled-C symbol isn't legally recognized.

2. The desire to profit from the infringement has little to do with
copyright: Exactly right. Although few agencies would successfully sue
Mother Theresa for using their works without permission, a court won't
consider your good intentions as an acceptable defence.

3. Fair use: If you personally haven't provided substantial
intellectual input into the final document, it's not fair use.

4. No such thing as international copyright: Any country that is a
signatory of the Berne or Universal copyright conventions follows very
similar rules for copyright, and respects the copyrights of citizens
of other signatory nations. Unfortunately, not all countries signed
this treaty.

5. Expressions, not ideas themselves, are copyrighted: This is what
lets you write a term paper or op-ed piece using (for ex.) an
encyclopedia as your source of information. It's still unethical not
to cite the source of your information, but as long as you provide
substantial input (i.e., don't just change the adjectives to ones you
like better), you're usually safe.

6. The expression must be recorded permanently: Although mostly true,
this rule of thumb has significant limits. For example, you can't
record a rock concert just because you know that the concert isn't
being recorded to produce an album. Even if the material isn't
recorded permanently (e.g., you quote someone's speech), various other
laws (e.g., libel, fraud, misrepresentation) apply to how you use the
nonpermanent words.

7. Trademarks are for names, copyright is for larger works. Yes, let's
not get into that... <grin>

--Geoff Hart @8^{)} geoff-h -at- mtl -dot- feric -dot- ca
Disclaimer: Speaking for myself, not FERIC.

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