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Play It Safe: Making Sure You're Not Committing Copyright Infringement
Copyright infringement is not an easy thing to explain. While it may seem as simple as not using someone else?s work, it?s not that easy. Thanks to the Electronic Frontier Foundation, and many other organizations, we have the ability to use others? works ? as long as we use it under ?fair use? laws. So what does fair use have to do with copyright infringement, and how can you utilize it?
Fair use laws are the conditions in which you can use a copyrighted work without having to pay someone royalties. This includes when you use a copyrighted work for educational or instructional uses, criticism of the work, commentaries on the work, news reporting about the work, teaching on the work (including multiple copies for classroom use), scholarship uses, and research. This is talked about fully in Section 107 of the Copyright Code (commonly called Fair Use) and is available for you to read at your local library.
Copyright Infringement in day-to-day life
Sometimes, if you?re writing a paper for work or school, or if you are creating a Power Point presentation, you need to use someone?s work that is already in copyright. So how do you use it without committing copyright infringement? All you have to do is ask ? the worst they can say is no, right? But, if they do say no, there are several items in the public domain which may help you to finish your project without having to commit copyright infringement.
What is the public domain, and how does it relate to copyright infringement?
Material that is not copyrighted is considered in the public domain ? you cannot commit copyright infringement on works in the public domain. These works include things that the copyright has expired on, or is not copyright-able ? such as government publications, jokes, titles, and ideas. Some creators (writers, musicians, artists, and more) deliberately put their work in the public domain, without ever obtaining copyright, by providing an affiliation with Creative Commons. Creative Commons allows people who create materials to forfeit some, or all, of their copyright rights and place their work either partially or fully in the public domain.
So, how do I ensure I?m not committing copyright infringement?
First of all, if you?re going to use someone else?s material, you may want to check the public domain to see if something is suitable for use, instead of trying to use someone else?s copyright. However, if you can?t find something suitable (and you can?t create something yourself), the next best thing (and your only legal course of action) is to find a piece that is in copyright, and contacting the copyright holder.
When you contact the copyright holder, make sure you tell them what you want to use their piece for ? whether it?s for your blog, podcast, or report ? and ask them if you can use it. You may have to pay royalties, or an attribution in your piece, or a combination of both. The creator may also place many limitations on when and how you can use their material. Follow all these instructions they give you, and you?ll be free and clear to use their work as you want.
Once you have permission to use a copyrighted work, you need to make sure you stay within the agreed-upon boundaries - if you veer outside their agreed terms, you may open yourself up for a copyright infringement lawsuit ? which can be nasty, costly, and time consuming. If you?re in doubt, before contacting the copyright holder, contact a copyright lawyer to ensure you?re following the law ? and protect yourself!
Conducting a Self-Evaluation After Getting Fired Sometimes life is hard and when you get fired, it gets even harder. In a country where employee turnover is high and there are no laws to protect you at your work place, potentially anybody is at risk to be fired. In general, that is true, but companies usually only fire a person that has done his or her job improperly, or is not qualified for his or her job any more. Therefore after you get fired, it is time that you conduct a self-evaluation. First of all, you need to make sure you know the reason why you have been fired. Do not just assume, you know why you have been fired. Make sure that your employer tells you the exact reasons why he has fired you. A self-evaluation as to whether the employer is right and whether you might have to work on yourself can only be done after you know why the company has told you to leave. If it was tardiness and absence of work that has gotten you fired, you need to be self critical enough to see that you need to be on time and be at work every day that you are not taking a vacation day. Keeping a job means playing by the rules and these rules do include times that you have to be a t work if you want to keep the job. When your boss told you, that you are not accomplishing your work or you are not qualified for the position, think back and try to find out why he might have said that. Did you deliver your work on time? Was it correct, mostly without any problems and errors? If that is not the case, then perhaps your boss was right and maybe you were not qualified enough to do the job. It might be that you need some more training or some more classes at the university to be able to do your job right. Or maybe you have just chosen a job that is not for you. When you are conducting that self-evaluation, make sure you are not too hypercritical. If it clearly was your fault that you got fired, you need to improve yourself and the personality traits that have led to the firing. Sometimes even though your boss gave you an explanation why you have been fired, you might not agree with the reason you have gotten fired from your company. Yes, sometimes these reasons might not be right. Since this is a society where anybody can get fired, maybe you have been fired because your boss did not like you and he made up some dubious reason for firing you. This is why you have to conduct a self-evaluation to make sure if what you were told is the truth. A self-evaluation might also lead you to the conclusion that you need to choose a different profession than the one you have been in. Maybe it took to get you fired to ser you in the right direction and at some point in your future you might actually thank that boss of yours that he had fired you. Otherwise you might have never found the job that you were destined for and would have been miserable doing the job you were doing. Unhappy employees are not good for a company and some bosses are good enough to realize that. Whatever the reason is that you got fired, make sure you find the reason and check with yourself how much truth lies within that reason and do you have to change to be a better employee and be able to keep your next job.
Software copyright statement A Software Copyright Statement Protects Current and Future Works If you have a site that is dedicated to the sharing and distribution of open source software it is a great idea to have a software copyright statement that explains the limits of use for your software as well as the limits of your responsibility for those uses. I also recommend getting an attorney to look over the statement before posting it just to be sure there are no legal issues that you may be unaware of. A software copyright statement doesn't have to be a 10 page booklet on the law or the protections that copyright offers, it should be a simple short paragraph stating the basics and hopefully covering your rear from litigation and/or responsibility should someone use the software you are allowing them to use for something insanely stupid or frighteningly criminal while establishing your ownership of the material and expectations of those you are allowing to use your creation. This for some is a no brainer because they've done it before and know the ropes. There are new software developers born and made each and every day and this type of software copyright statement may serve to save them a little grief of their own some day. If you are being kind enough to freely share the software you created with others, you'd like to think that they would at least return the favor of using it within the letter of the law or the manner in which it was intended. This, however, is rarely the case so protecting yourself, your copyright, and your future interests by posting a software copyright statement on your website is really the best way to go in a situation such as this. Trust me I'm not trying to talk anyone out of sharing his or her software with the world. I rather like open source software and admit to using it freely (no pun intended). I love saving money almost as much as I love playing around with new technology. Software allows me to do that and find likes and dislikes about all kinds of programs. Issuing a software copyright statement is one way of protecting your investment of time, effort, energy, and sheer brilliance in the making and design of your technological masterpiece. Hopefully that flattery will keep you going a bit longer at any rate. It is important to know that a software copyright statement is only part of the process required to protect your software but for the most part poses a significant deterrent to those that would abuse your copyright and/or your kindness in allowing the distribution of your software. Even if you are charging people for the use of your software (we are a nation of capitalists after all) you still need to protect the labor you have put into making not only the software but the distribution method, the website, the payment method and the thousands of other things that are part and parcel of the business model for your software distribution. Your software copyright statement is a very small protection for your software don't expect it to be the brunt of your protection. Most of the software developers, coders, and programmers (and any other name you wish to call them) that I know aren't as concerned nearly as much about associating their name with the products they create as they are with protecting future potential income from both the products they are currently designing and the future, improvements they will make to the software and the much improved finished product that comes later. By protecting all your work with a software copyright statement you are not only protecting current works but future works as well.