Woosh has generously put together a guide about copyright issues. This is meant to help you guys to know your rights and to stay out of copyright trouble. Copyrights vary from country to country. Copyright laws can also be very complex. This post is meant to serve only as a guide to help you make smart decisions about your work.
Also, always remember to watermark your images
. Check out the post here
to learn how to watermark your work.
Copyright...What Are My Rights?
Copyright is created when you save it on your hard drive, not when you post it. So, when you originate that great design/illustration on paper or digitally a copyright is born.
“I borrowed some inspiration from…”
Originality is required. If you copy someone else’s original work, you have no copyright. Indeed, you’ve infringed their copyright, unless you fit within an exception. If you start with their work and make additions and changes, you’ve created a “derivative work.”
A “derivative work” is a work based upon one or more preexisting works, eg. an existing design you have "borrowed" and changed slightly or any other form in which a work may be recast, transformed, or adapted.
In other words using a pre-existing design that is not your own this is unethical and with the amount of designers on the web these days you are bound to get caught out. It is ILLEGAL.
The owner of a copyright in an original work has the exclusive right to:
After You Post It, You Still Own It
- Publish it.
- Reproduce it.
- Distribute it.
- Display it.
- Make “derivative works.”
When you post your own copyrighted material on the internet, you still have the copyright. You haven’t given it away, and it doesn’t become public domain, and it’s not okay for someone to copy it.
What Is Not Copyrightable?
Some kinds of materials or otherwise “original works” cannot be copyrighted.
Titles, names, short phrases, and slogans; familiar symbols or designs; mere variations of typographic ornamentation, lettering, or coloring; mere listings of ingredients or contents
For example: you don’t own “white on dark” text, or a “green and black” color scheme, or the slogan “Web Standards Rule” or “Web Wizards,” or similar short phrases and general ideas.
Exception: Remember that we are not talking about trademarks here. Trademarks are definitely a no no to copy.
A copyright notice is the cryptic little phrase at the bottom of many websites, inside the cover of every book, etc. It is basically a statement that “I own this original work.”
The correct form includes three items:
- The word “copyright” or “copr.”, or the © symbol.
- The year of first publication of the copyrighted material to which the notice refers.
- The name of the copyright owner. This may be an individual’s full name or last name only, or a company or organization name (or a recognizable abbreviation).
By the way, it is generally considered acceptable to change the order of these three items of a copyright notice, although it looks funny if the copyright word/symbol isn’t in the front.
- copyright 2006 John Doe
- © 2006 Doe
- © Doe & Co. 2005-2006
- copr. 2005 Doe Community Church
You may also see the characters ”(C)”. This is simply incorrect. These three characters have never been given legal effect.
The copyright notice is now optional, at least in all countries that have ratified the Berne Convention. However, it can be beneficial.
Lifetime Of A Copyright
That word “lifetime” is a little joke, because the copyright in current works lasts for the lifetime of the creator, plus 70 years. Short answer: long enough.
Don’t Infringe Copyrights!
At the very least, it’s illegal.
Rules of Thumb on the Internet
These are only rough guidelines, but they’re good ones:
- If it’s on the internet, it’s copyrighted.
- If you didn’t originate it, you don’t own the copyright.
- When in doubt, ask for permission.
- Don’t infringe copyrights.
- Postings to the net are not granted to the public domain, and don't grant you any permission to do further copying except perhaps the sort of copying the poster might have expected in the ordinary flow of the net.
- Copyright law is mostly civil law where the special rights of criminal defendants you hear so much about don't apply. Watch out, however, as new laws are moving copyright violation into the criminal realm.
Valuable site to read further...