6 Raising awareness– the simplest and most effective method being used by the standards community to minimize copyright abuse of standards is to ensure
the exclusive right to make copies, license, and otherwise exploit a literary, musical, or artistic work, whether printed, audio, video, etc.: works granted such right by law on or after January 1, 1978, are protected for the lifetime of the author or creator and for a period of 50 years after his or her death. Copyright is an amazing set of laws designed to protect and promote artists along with their art, creativity, and learning. It’s gotten a really bad rap, and you should can set aside any preconceived ideas for a bit and think through the copyright. A copyright grants the exclusive right to publish and sell a written document, photograph, work of art, or other form of intellectual property. Although it is always best to register a copyright, copyright law states that a work is automatically assigned to the creator upon creation of the work.
Here’s something to remember: Copyright law promotes freedom and creativity. Let’s explore how.
The first thing to know about copyright in the United States is that it just happens. If something can be copied, then it’s copyrighted. You needn’t fill out any special forms, report to a government office, or do anything extra to put it in place. The law is written so that copyright happens as soon is something original and creative is recorded in a "fixed form." This means that as soon as you write something down, sketch it out, or click the shutter on your camera, whatever you just created is copyrighted. The only reason you might do anything additional is to establish verifiable proof of when a creation was copyrighted, because the person who can prove that she recorded it first owns the copyright.
Imagine that you’re in a restaurant talking with a friend. During this conversation you make up a song on the spot. A famous singer in the booth behind yours hears you and writes it down. He claims the copyright to the lyrics and melody and makes a million bucks with your spontaneous song, and there’s little you can do about it. However, if you recorded it on your phone when you sang it, you recorded it in fixed form first. So, you own the copyright on the lyrics, and the artist now owes you a truckload of money.
Why does the law have this quirky little rule? Because the courts have to decide who owns copyright when its ownership is contested in court. And courts rely on tangible proof. So the law makes it simple by stating that she who first records something in fixed form wins. This way, you’re not going to sue someone if you have no proof that you were first. But even if you were, and you can’t prove it, you’re out of luck.
So why do we have a copyright notice on music, DVDs, and one of the first pages of this book? If we don’t need it, why do we display it?
Simply put, it reminds people who owns this copyrighted material. When no date and copyright symbol are displayed, people may think they can legally make photocopies of this book for their friends. Most people assume if no copyright notice appears, then no copyright exists. (They’re totally wrong.) The presence of a visible copyright statement discourages this conclusion and behavior.
So it certainly can’t cause any harm to scratch a copyright symbol on your art when you’re done with it, but it’s more to remind the public than to protect you. You’re already protected by law. Adding the copyright symbol to your work is like putting one of those security system signs in your front yard. It won’t stop a determined thief, but it can deter less committed offenders. Still, if you think it makes your front yard look cheap, you don’t need it for protection. The system already protects you.
Playing fair with copyrighted material
Even if a work is copyright-protected, you might still be able to use it freely under the fair use exception. Whether your use is fair depends on all the circumstances of your use and four factors: the purpose of the use, the nature of the work used, how much of the work you intend to use, and how your use will affect the value of the work. Your use is more likely to be considered fair if it's for nonprofit or educational purposes rather than commercial purposes. It's often considered fair if the work is published and is more factual than creative, if you’re using small or less significant portions of the work, when few copies are made, and your usage has little effect on the market for the work -- whether people will still buy it.
These uses of copyrighted material are completely legit. The people who came up with our copyright laws were careful to make sure that the laws don’t limit—but instead promote— creativity. They did this with a set of ideas called fair use.
Fair use policy is a set of rules that make sure copyright protection doesn’t come at the cost of creativity and freedom. Copyright can’t be used to limit someone’s personal growth or learning, freedom of speech, or artistic expression and creative exploration. Those ideas are more important than copyright, so copyright doesn’t apply when it gets in the way of these higher ideals. You’re free to use copyrighted materials in the pursuit of these higher goals. Some people (mistakenly) believe that fair use doesn’t apply to copyrighted materials, but in fact, it applies only to copyrighted materials. Here is a list of issues that a court would consider when making a decision about fair use:
- Purpose: If you use the work to teach, learn, voice your own opinion, inspire you to create a new piece of art, or report news, you’re probably safe. Protected reasons include educational purposes (teaching, research), freedom of speech (commentary or criticism), news reporting, and transformative work (parody or using the work in a new way). It isn’t considered fair use if you’re making money from the use, using it just for entertainment, or trying to pass it off as your own work.
- Nature: If the nature of the original work is factual, published information, or the work was critical to favoring education, you’re probably safe. Was the content already published, fact based, and important for society to know? Then you’re pretty safe to use the work. But if it was unpublished, creative (such as art, music, film, novels), and fictional, you’re probably not cleared to use it.
- Amount: If you use a small amount of a copyrighted work, it’s more likely that your use of the work is fair use. If you use only a small quantity—not the main idea or focus of the work, but just enough to teach or learn from—you’re probably safe. If you use a large portion of the work or basically rip off the central idea or the "heart of the work," it isn’t fair use.
- Effect: If nobody is harmed because of the action you’ve taken, then your action is probably fair use. If you use a legitimate copy of the original work, it doesn’t affect the sale of another copy, and you have no other way to get a copy, you’re in pretty good shape. But if your copy makes it less likely that someone would buy a copy or you made a large number of copies, you’re probably hurting the original creator, and that’s not fair use.
As mentioned earlier, copyright law addresses a simple question: "How can we promote more freedom and creativity in the world?" This is the question that copyright laws seek to answer. Fair use makes sure that beginning artists can experiment using anything they want. Just be sure not to share anything that might be another artist’s copyrighted work. But as a beginning video producer/editor, how can you get good-quality assets to use in real-world projects? Happily, you have access to more free resources than ever before in history via the Internet and free stock photo and footage sites. We’ll look at some in the next section.
You have a couple of ways in which to undo copyright. One is voluntary. An author can choose to release the copyright to her material. Believe it or not, this can be more difficult to do than you’d expect. Copyright law protects creators of their works, and it can be difficult to not be protected by copyright law.
The second way is to let the copyright expire. Copyrights normally expire between 50 and 100 years after the death of the original author, but exceptions to this rule and extensions can be requested. It’s beyond the scope of this book to discuss copyright at length, but it’s important to realize that some materials have expired copyrights. When copyright is expired or released, the work is said to be in the public domain. This means that copyright no longer applies to the content, and you can use the material without worrying about copyright infringement.
Licensing of CopyRight
A copyright grants the exclusive right to publish and sell a written document, photograph, work of art, or other form of intellectual property. Although it is always best to register a copyright, copyright law states that a work is automatically assigned to the creator upon creation of the work.
Licensing is another way that you can legally use copyrighted material. For designers and artists, licensing is fairly common because it allows us to use copyrighted material for a certain time and in a certain way by paying a fee established by the copyright holder according to the use of the material.
Stock photos are popular items licensed by all sorts of designers, and you can find them from many sources at various prices. In fact, Adobe Stock is integrated into Premiere Pro itself. Stock photos are images for which the author retains copyright but you can purchase a license to use these images in your designs. For almost everyone, this is a much less expensive solution than hiring a photographer to go to a location and shoot, process, and sell you the rights to an image.
The Creative Commons copyright licenses and tools forge a balance inside the traditional "all rights reserved" setting that copyright law creates. In the last decade or so, a lot of exploration has been done in finding alternative ways to license creative works. Creative Commons licensing (Figure ) is built on copyright law but offers ways that artists can release their works for limited use and still choose the way the works are used and shared.
Creative Commons licenses include many different combinations of the following attributes, so you’ll need to do some research when using Creative Commons–licensed materials and when releasing assets with Creative Commons licensing.
- Public Domain (CC0) licenses allow artists to release their works to the public domain. It’s a bit difficult to give your materials away to the public domain, but CC0 is generally recognized as a way to do so and is respected in most parts of the world.
- Attribution (BY) requires that you credit the original author when using her work. You can do whatever you want with the work as long as you give that credit.
- ShareAlike (SA) allows you to use the item in anything you want as long as your creation is shared under the same license as the original work.
- NoDerivs (ND) requires that you not change the material when you incorporate it into your own work. You can use NoDerivs material freely, but you must pass it along without changing it.
- NonCommercial (NC) means that people can use your work in their own creative works as long as they don’t charge for it. You’re getting it for free, so if you want to use it, then you have to be generous and also give away your work for free.
Creative Commons licenses are widely accepted and used, and you can find a ton of amazing resources that use this licensing. If you have any questions about Creative Commons licenses, you can find out everything from a general overview to detailed legal descriptions at www.creativecommons.org.
Because many assets we use in interactive media projects include photographs and video, we need to talk about extra permissions such as model releases. This type of release is required when a person’s face is identifiable in the footage and the video will be used to promote something, whether it’s a product or an idea. Any work you do for a client is by definition a commercial use and will require a model release for every identifiable face.