Re: Copyright ethics

Subject: Re: Copyright ethics
From: Tom Tadfor Little <tlittle -at- LANL -dot- GOV>
Date: Wed, 4 Oct 1995 10:01:08 -0600

Tim Lewis writes:
|In one issue, he copied a syndicated cartoon from the local newspaper. (It
|included the copyright notice.) He did not ask permission to use it nor did
|he pay for its use. I wrote to him and told him tactfully that this is a
|violation of copyright. He maintains that it okay because he does not charge
|for the newsletter. He also says that his lawyer said it is ok too.

|So, my question is: Do you agree that he violated the copyright and is it
|worth my time to convince him to not do it again? If so, how should I do it?
|Mail copies of the copyright laws and related articles?

I agree absolutely that this is a copyright violation. One of the big myths
of copyright is that "it's not a violation if I don't charge money for it".
This is absolutely false. Copyright law gives the copyright owner exclusive
right to publish and distribute the material. Courts may award greater
_damages_ against someone who profits financially from violating another's
copyright, but it's a violation either way.

[In this case, the company that syndicates the cartoon could very easily
argue that the copyright violation does them financial harm. Anyone who
gets the cartoon in the free newsletter would not need to go out and pay
for it.]

If you do feel you should pursue it (and that's your call), I'd try to find
a lawyer who would be willing to write a polite note explaining the law. Since
the guy already has a lawyer who says it's all hunky dory (*gasp*), he's not
likely to care about the opinion of civilians like us.

Tom Tadfor Little tlittle -at- lanl -dot- gov
technical writer/editor Los Alamos National Laboratory
************************* CIC-1/CON MS M700 5-5214
also at telp -at- Rt66 -dot- com
--> on the web at
America: land of opportunity...and motive.

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