With Christmas music, plays, greeting cards, stories, websites, and so many other creative works being generated about and around the season, getting it right when copyright questions arise is important. Unfortunately, there are frequent misconceptions and misunderstandings about the law. So, here HULSEY PC debunks a list of Christmas Copyright Myths that frequently circulate.
We hope that you find our answers educational and helpful.
<h1>Christmas Copyright Myths</h1>
Myth #1: I must use the © in order to have copyright protection
Reality: The first thing to note is that for copyright there is only one form of the symbol (©), unlike trade marks, where there is a symbol for registered trade marks (®) and a symbol for unregistered trade marks (™).
Myth #2: I must file for copyright registration in order to have copyright protection
Reality: Your work is under copyright protection the moment it is created and fixed in a tangible form that it is perceptible either directly or with the aid of a machine or device.
Myth #3: Mailing my original work to myself establishes copyright protection
Reality: The practice of sending a copy of your own work to yourself is sometimes called a “poor man’s copyright.” There is no provision in the copyright law regarding any such type of protection, and it is not a substitute for registration.
Myth #4: By changing someone else’s work, I avoid their copyright
Reality: The act of copying or adapting someone else’s work is a restricted act. Any adaptation will be legally regarded as a derived work; so if you simply adapt the work of others, it will still be their work, and they have every right to object you if publish such a work when they have not given you permission to do so. They are also entitled to reclaim any money you make from selling their work.
Myth #5: There is only one type of music copyright
Reality: The are a number of potential copyrights associated with any musical work. A sound recording will have a separate copyright to the underlying musical composition. This means that a new recording of an old piece of music will still be protected under copyright, even if copyright has expired in the original music. Other copyrights include the following:
Myth #6: Creative Commons / GPL license are new types of copyrights
Reality: A Creative Commons (CC) license is one of several public copyright licenses that enable the free distribution of an otherwise copyrighted work. A CC license is used when an author wants to give people the right to share, use, and build upon a work that they have created. CC provides an author flexibility (for example, they might choose to allow only non-commercial uses of their own work) and protects the people who use or redistribute an author’s work from concerns of copyright infringement as long as they abide by the conditions that are specified in the license by which the author distributes the work.
Myth #7: With copyright, I cannot ever reproduce anything
Reality: No, copyright isn’t an iron-clad lock on what can be published. Indeed, by many arguments, by providing reward to authors, it encourages them to not just allow, but fund the publication and distribution of works so that they reach far more people than they would if they were free or unprotected — and unpromoted. However, it must be remembered that copyright has two main purposes, namely the protection of the author’s right to obtain commercial benefit from valuable work, and more recently the protection of the author’s general right to control how a work is used.
Myth #8: Anything posted on the Internet/Usenet is public domain
Reality: Uploading or downloading works protected by copyright without the authority of the copyright owner is an infringement of the copyright owner’s exclusive rights of reproduction and/or distribution. Anyone found to have infringed a copyrighted work may be liable for statutory damages up to $30,000 for each work infringed and, if willful infringement is proven by the copyright owner, that amount may be increased up to $150,000 for each work infringed. In addition, an infringer of a work may also be liable for the attorney’s fees incurred by the copyright owner to enforce his or her rights.
Myth #9: Fair use allows me to copy up to 10% of another’s work
Reality: Fair Use is an exception to copyright infringement and allows a third party to use a copyrighted work under very specific circumstances. Unfortunately, there is no checklist or strict reading of this law, creating challenges for many authors. Since you may not have the counsel of a publisher, you’ll need to read up on this concept and determine if your use would fit the guidelines. Commercial works may have a claim of Fair Use, however as with all Fair Use claims it is a case-by-case determination.
Myth #10: If I don’t make money from the copying, it is permissible
Reality: No, except in specific circumstances permitted under fair dealing/fair use rules, any copying or publication without the consent of the copyright owner is an infringement, and you could face legal action.
If the use has a financial impact on the copyright owner, (i.e. lost sales), then you could also face a claim for damages to reclaim lost revenue and royalties.