Re: Re. A few notes on copyright

Subject: Re: Re. A few notes on copyright
From: Tim Altom <taltom -at- IQUEST -dot- NET>
Date: Fri, 17 May 1996 08:28:00 EST

At 05:20 PM 5/16/96 -0500, you wrote:

> Bob Armao summarized some points raised at an STC conference session
> on copyright. All important points, but I'd like to elaborate further:

> 1. The act of publishing establishes copyright and the circled-C
> symbol isn't necessary: Both are true, but that's not the whole story.
> If you don't _register_ your copyright and use the word "copyright"
> followed by the year, you forego the rights to certain statutory
> damages. The circled-C symbol isn't legally recognized.

Perhaps I'm picking nits here, but publication doesn't establish copyright,
creation does. You own copyright the instant your ideas are fixed in
tangible form.

> 3. Fair use: If you personally haven't provided substantial
> intellectual input into the final document, it's not fair use.

The amount of intellectual input you've put into a work has no bearing on
fair use. Fair use is an exception to the copyright law that's applicable to
a narrow band of usages, such as quoting in scholarly journals. It has
almost no application to the stream of commerce.

6. The expression must be recorded permanently: Although mostly true,
> this rule of thumb has significant limits. For example, you can't
> record a rock concert just because you know that the concert isn't
> being recorded to produce an album. Even if the material isn't
> recorded permanently (e.g., you quote someone's speech), various other
> laws (e.g., libel, fraud, misrepresentation) apply to how you use the
> nonpermanent words.

You can't copyright a rock concert, until it's fixed in tangible form. In
fact, that's a general principle of copyright law, that a work must be fixed
in tangible form. That's why promoters are so careful to keep recorders out
of concerts, because they know they have no copyright protection on the work
as a whole until it's recorded somewhere.

Usually intellectual property rights aren't major problems. What usually
snares those of us in this profession are contractual issues like work for
hire and performance expectations.

Tim Altom
Vice President, Simply Written, Inc.
317.899.5882 (voice) 317.899.5987 (fax)
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