Skirting the Scope of Copyright Infringement

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Skirting the Scope of Copyright Infringement

Copyright laws have been created with the intention of safeguarding the interests of individuals who create original works. Copyright laws have been put in place to prevent others from using someone else’s creative or intellectual work as their own and making profits from it. Even if the intention is not to make profits, using someone else’s work without their explicit permission is tantamount to copyright infringement. The main purpose being that the creator or an author of a work of art, equipment, technology or literature, owns the explicit right and ownership to what they create and it is entirely their discretion as to whether or not others can use or reproduce their creations.

For instance, copyrights in music exist for songwriters for the lyrics they create, for composers who compose music etc. When songwriters provide explicit permission to artists to record their words, they usually enter into an agreement that outlines how recording rights have been granted, thereby skirting the scope of copyright infringement. In the event that another artist decides to use the same lyrics in a different manner in another song or uses the same tunes, the songwriter or the composer are at liberty to initiate legal action against the artist. In simple words, copyright infringement is as good as stealing.

Other instances of copyright infringement would include;

  • Recording movies in a theatre for unauthorized public viewing.
  • Downloading movies and music from the internet without making any payment.
  • Copying software code and algorithms without acknowledging the source.
  • Using pictures clicked by others for publication in blogs, academic journals etc.
  • Copying original research theme created by someone else to be used in a separate research.
  • Copying podcasts, blogs and books without permission or acknowledgement.

Pointers to Skirt Copyright Infringement:

Pointer #1:

Using caution if its’ not original work done by you

If you not created a piece of literature or book or picture, then you are not at liberty to use it as you please. That there was no copyright symbol ( © ) anywhere on the text or image does not entitle you to use it freely. For instance, if you come across an unattended bag on the street, you would not take it. Similarly, if you find a picture on the internet or a really interesting research article, you should not use it without permission. It is recommended that you check the permission or license prior to using any work that is not created by you.

Online video hosting platforms such as YouTube are known to use software that detects any videos that infringe on the copyright of original creators before they allow the video to be uploaded. Likewise, Slideshare enables users to report any copyright infringement issues.

Pointer #2:

Read and read

A large number of scholars, authors and creators of original content are often interested in sharing their work with others but for an appropriate fee or acknowledgement. Therefore, it is advised that you carefully read the rules for use of such original content which usually exist in the form of a license. Reading and reviewing the terms of use or licensing can go a long way in skirting copyright issues.

Pointer #3:

  Ignore Urban Myths

Though the costs associated with software development has been reduced considerably with the existence of open source codes, it can still be incriminating if you use it without perusing the license to check the scope for using such codes commercially. While the name does say ‘open’, it is not as open as you might believe; certain licenses restrict such codes being used for commercial gains.

Pay no heed to anyone who tells you that you can use any content available on the net without obtaining any permission from anyone. It is also believed that if content is copied from the website of a leading organization, it goes undetected as organizations don’t have the time to check. It is a big myth as software has automated the process of detecting any copyright infringement. Large and leading organization may not hesitate to initiate action in such instances.

Copyright infringement is unethical and disregards or disrespects the efforts and labour undertaken by the creator of an original piece of work. Needless to say, getting embroiled in copyright infringement cases can be devastating too.

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