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The Inadequacies of Current Copyright Laws

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So bloggers are firmly among the guilty in the area of ignoring copyright: ” Bloggers, in general, have little respect for copyright laws and tend to snatch and grab anything out there as “theirs”.

One blogger who was involved in this had possession of 12 videos that he was making available on his site. He didn’t have rights to any of them.”

So says Terry Heaton in a post in his Pomo blog writing about some efforts he’s been involved with in trying to set up bandwidth-sharing for videos about the Asian tsunami disaster. He adds:

“… Personally, I think we need to look at rewriting copyright laws, because once one of these things is posted on the Web, it becomes a free-for-all in terms of swiping and using. The same thing applies to photographs and graphics …”

I couldn’t agree more. I wrote on this topic last month, saying that current copyright laws are wholly inadequate in this age of copy-and-paste freedom to grab and use anything you come across on a blog or other website, without a care in the world. And whether you know it’s right or not (and any reasonable blogger will know what’s right and what’s not).

The balanced approach to copyright and recognizing the intellectual property rights of others as advocated by Creative Commons is how ‘normal’ copyright law should develop, in my view.

In the meantime, employ some common sense:

  1. Use someone else’s work only if:
  2. a. You have permission;
    b. The work is in the public domain; or
    c. What you do with the work amounts to “fair use.”

  3. If you do not know whether a work is subject to copyright, investigate before you use it.
  4. If a work is subject to a copyright, don’t use, quote or lift from it without getting permission first, unless you are confident you meet a fair use exception. For a blogger or site owner, that means ask before posting someone else’s articles or photos.
  5. If you don’t know whether it’s copyrighted or do not know for certain that it is in the public domain, ditto.
  6. If you have any doubts, consult a copyright or intellectual property attorney before using someone else’s work (advice costs less than defending an infringement claim does).

Neville Hobson is the author of the popular NevilleHobson.com blog which focuses on business communication and technology.

Neville is currentlly the VP of New Marketing at Crayon. Visit Neville Hobson’s blog: NevilleHobson.com.

The Inadequacies of Current Copyright Laws
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