I was concerned when I read Lucy Williams’ article about how her blog had been used without permission and someone else had claimed authorship in The Guardian http://www.theguardian.com/higher-education-network/blog/2013/dec/04/academic-blogging-newspaper-research-plagiarism – concerned but not surprised.
The number of people I talk to, who should know much better, that want to promote themselves or their business without getting permission for images or music or film clips or… These people that do not think about the simple administrative process of applying through the proper licensing agency and paying a small fee that would support the creator of the work to be able to live.
Just because artistic works are available online, freely available for everyone to access, does not mean they are freely available to be used. The creator has the right to decide how and where the work can be used and who can use it.
There is no excuse for not understanding the system, information about copyright is freely available from governments and one site I would recommended for the UK is http://www.ipo.gov.uk The language is a little more accessible than the legislation of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988. The following two sections are from http://www.ipo.gov.uk/types/copy/c-about/c-auto.htm
There is no official registration system for copyright in the United Kingdom (UK) and most other parts of the world. There are no forms to fill in and no fees to pay to get copyright protection.
So long as you have created and fixed, for example in writing, an original work that qualifies for copyright protection, that is it falls into one of the categories of material protected by copyright, you will have copyright protection without having to do anything to establish this. It is a requirement of various international conventions on copyright that copyright should be automatic with no need to register.
The part that becomes a little more involved is seeking recompense (or even an apology and proper credit for the work). High Court proceedings are expensive but mediation may be a better solution or settlement through the Small Claims Track if negotiation fails to satisfy all the parties.
This blog is freely available but I own the copyright, there are three iBooks of Scales and Modes that I published and are freely available to download but are copyrighted, my music on SoundCloud is free to listen to but not to be used without permission. As the creator I have made the decision to share some of my works but I have retained my ownership and I am happy with that. There are many other works that I do not share unless they are purchased and I am happy with that as well.
Educating children about intellectual property and copyright is needed as early as possible in schools. Bad habits can be picked up that could be costly in the future in both education and business terms. Refresher courses for adults may be useful as well.
Support your creative communities and get permission before you use someone else’s copyrighted ideas.
© Peter R. Birkby 2013