Sunday, March 18, 2018

Dead Authors And Defunct Publishers Are Not Fair Game

Copyright lasts for the life of the author plus up to seventy years. Most English-speaking nations, and many non-English-speaking nations have agreed to this.  (Berne Convention, WIPO etc.)

A book may be out of print, but that does not mean that it is out of copyright. A book may be available to read online on a pirate site, but that does not mean that the book is "in the public domain" and free for everyone to exploit and share.

An ebook may be in a "private collection" sold as a CD on EBay, but that does not mean that the EBay seller is conducting lawful business, or that (whatever he or she alleges in the listing) he or she owns the copyright to the ebooks in the private collection.

One of many fascinating sources of good information on popular misconceptions about copyright is Angela Hoy.

Her recent article "When Authors Don't Understand Copyright Law" is excellent.

Of course, the same applies to music, and song-writers.

Here's a prompt for a little navel gazing.

The law blog article "Bloggers Beware...." by John Crittenden,  Lori Levine  and Peter Willsey of the law firm  Cooley LLP  raises the alarm that linking to content --that may infringe someone else's copyright-- may also be copyright infringement.

This may be an important alert to all bloggers and retweeters from Cooley LLP.  Please follow the link to find out what they have to say about the potential dangers of "embedding" other people's copyrighted images, and the possible consequences if the Goldman vs Breitbart ruling survives.

It would be improper to wonder whether the New York federal district judge departed from the powerful precedent set by the Californian Ninth Circuit judges because the (losing) defendant in New York was Breitbart, and the (winning) defendant in California was Amazon... but perhaps "improper wonderings" are grist to the author mill.

Meanwhile, for those who monetize their writing online, beware of snagging illustrations or sidebars from Facebook or Twitter, instead of paying the creator and copyright owner for a non-exclusive license to use the illustration or anecdote.

All the best,
Rowena Cherry

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