Copyright & (re) distribution of information?

Subject: Copyright & (re) distribution of information?
From: Geoff Hart <Geoff-H -at- MTL -dot- FERIC -dot- CA>
To: "Techwr-L (E-mail)" <TECHWR-L -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Thu, 10 Feb 2000 14:54:24 -0500

Jessica Lange wants <<to give a potential customer a copy of a favorable
review of our product that appeared in a trade paper. Since what we have is
a faxed copy unsuitable for such presentation, we want to retype it,
including all attributions to the paper. Does anyone know if this is legal
or not?>>

Not. Among other things, most trade magazines are quite happy to sell you
hundreds of copies of "reprints" of their articles for use in your marketing
pieces, so your photocopying of their material is definitely cutting into
their revenue. Even if that weren't the case, the published material is
still copyrighted, and copying and redistributing copyrighted material is
very clearly a copyright violation. There are limited exceptions for "public
libraries" and for "educational use", but since you're selling a product, I
doubt you qualify under these exemptions; even my employer, which is a
nonprofit organisation, doesn't qualify (because the people who fund us
aren't nonprofit orgs). Strictly speaking, unless the fax came from the
copyright holder, that's a violation too.

Fortunately, there's a good alternative: it's generally considered "fair
use" to quote _limited_ sections of someone's review of your product, so
long as you provide full attribution of the quote and take pains to ensure
that you're not quoting the author out of context (thus, misrepresenting the
opinion of either the author or the publisher). You'd want to carefully
confirm your excerpts with the publisher if you plan to make them a formal
part of your marketing package, but for a one-time presentation to a client,
a simple attributed quote should suffice.

--Geoff Hart, Pointe-Claire, Quebec
geoff-h -at- mtl -dot- feric -dot- ca
"The paperless office will arrive when the paperless toilet
arrives."--Matthew Stevens




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