Regulations are getting wound up tighter and tighter – here in Australia and worldwide. What used to be the ‘Wild West’ of the Internet is fast becoming a game of ‘Keeping to the straight and narrow’.
In 2013 Privacy and data collection were targets and front page news. Going forward, in 2014, look for Copyright and Copyright Infringement to become a central point of discussion.
So with the New Year, what better time to review your website for Copyright breaches and, if necessary, clean up your act. So what is Copyright? And what is Copyright Infringement?
What is Copyright?
Generally speaking, Copyright protection is an exclusive right that exists to protect the creator of an original ‘work’. This work must be in a fixed, tangible form – in other words, it cannot be just an idea. The Copyright owner can license their work, sell or assign their rights and can prevent others from using it, reproducing or communicating the work.
Copyright protection is automatic for the owner, immediate and does not require registration in Australia nor do you have to put any type of Copyright notification on the work. But if you have a trademark or patent that is registrable, it is easier to show your ownership and give notice of your protection to others.
How is Copyright infringed?
Here at Legal123, we’ve already published a handy infographic on Copyright Infringement. It describes the 5 most common myths about Copyright and helps explain how Copyright can be infringed – even accidentally sometimes. Here is a summary:
- Myth: If a work is posted on the Internet it loses Copyright protection. This is perhaps the biggest misconception – you never lose Copyright protection as an owner of a work.
- Myth: You can copy or share something online if you give the owner credit or link back to them. False again! You cannot use other people’s work without getting their permission. The only other way you can legally use or repost their material is if you fall within one of the ‘fair dealing exceptions’.
- Myth: If you alter, manipulate or ‘tweak’ an image or work, there is no breach of Copyright. No way! You have used someone else’s work and as soon as you do this, no matter what you did with it, you breached their Copyright.
- Myth: If a work has no Copyright symbol there is no Copyright protection. False, there is no requirement to add a Copyright symbol for a work to be protected. It’s protected from the moment it is produced and this protection is never lost.
- Myth: I can share and post someone’s work as long as I don’t profit from it. This is so wrong! You are still breaching Copyright.
So have you breached someone’s Copyright? For example: you shared an Internet meme, copied an image for your business page, shared a good article you read with your customers or you saw a great photo and wanted to share it. Remember, there are only a few, very specific ‘fair dealing exceptions’. They include using someone else’s work for: research, education, criticism, review, parody or satire.
What should I do if someone steals my work?
Lastly, you might have had your Copyright infringed. What should you do? Send them a Copyright Infringement Notice, asking them to either take down the work or give you a link or attribution. Alternatively, you can offer them a licence to use the work for a fee. And if they have profited from your work (i.e. they’re selling your photos, designs, etc.) you can claim royalties from them!
So there you go. The moral of the story is think twice before you ‘share’ your favorite photo or ‘borrow’ an article for your business blog – you may be stealing someone’s Copyrighted work. And make it your New Year’s resolution to stop this, clean up your website and make sure you respect other people’s Copyright.
If someone has copied your work online, use our Copyright Infringement Notice to request take down, compensation or offer licensing. Plus what to do if you’re ignored. Get the Legal123: