Copyrighted articles?

Subject: Copyrighted articles?
From: "Geoff Hart (by way of \"Eric J. Ray\" <ejray -at- raycomm -dot- com>)" <ght -at- MTL -dot- FERIC -dot- CA>
Date: Thu, 12 Nov 1998 07:13:49 -0700

Tracey Moore wants << quote an article in the text of one of our
documents. I have contacted the magazine to ask for reprint
permission, and they insist on us purchasing printed reprints.
(Actually, I think the salesperson is just a pain.) I have since
written them explaining that we don't want to include printed
reprints, that we want to pull quotes from the article, and of course
reference the article. I have contacted them again and again, and
they won't return my call.>>

Caveat: I'm writing this based on Canadian law as of the 1994
documentation provided by the Canadian Intellectual Property Office.
YMMV if you're in another jurisdiction, though the broad outlines of
what I've said should still be relevant in other countries that
adhere to the Berne convention.

First off, with the possible exception of poetry, no publisher can
stop you from quoting an article without their permission. In
academia and elsewhere, this is known as "fair use". In fact, fair
use is written right into the copyright law, and so long as you
include an attribution and don't try to pretend the words are yours,
there's no problem. Correction, a few minor problems that are easy to
avoid: First, you must be rigorous about ensuring that you're not
misquoting the person or quoting them out of context in such a way
that the quote proves misleading or unrepresentative of what the
author intended. Second, there are various rules of thumb about what
proportion of an article you can quote before you've violated the
copyright, but the true test is whether you've provided your own
intellectual input to the writing process, rather than simply cutting
and pasting someone else's words. In effect, the other person's text
must support your thinking process, not take its place. Third, be
careful of so-called moral rights, which means (for example) that you
might encounter legal difficulties if you used an anti-abortionist's
words in a newsletter that supports the pro-choice movement and in a
context that associated the protestor with that movement.

If you have any doubts whatsoever about the legality of quoting, it's
perfectly legitimate to paraphrase what the original author said and
create your own article based on the concepts the person used. You
_can't_ legally copyright an idea, but you _can_ certainly copyright
the expression of that idea.

There have been some recent changes in Canadian copyright law that
strengthen copyright protection for the authors, but to my knowledge,
they don't affect what I've said. I'm still waiting for my copy of
the new legislation, and I'll post a followup if there have been any
dramatic changes that affect my statements.
--Geoff Hart @8^{)}
geoff-h -at- mtl -dot- feric -dot- ca

"Patience comes to those who wait."--Anon.

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