Copyright Qs & As: Permission to Use Copyright Materials
9.1 Question: My organization is developing a course on work habits to be used for internal purposes only for all of our employees. We are gathering articles from various academic and non-academic publications. Is it necessary to obtain permission to use these articles in our course materials?
Answer: You will need permission to use the articles in your course materials, even if the materials will only be distributed internally. You may be able to obtain permission from the authors or publishers of the articles, or from a photocopying copyright collective such as the Copyright Clearance Center (in the U.S.) or Access Copyright (in Canada). (2007-1)
9.2 Question: I am translating a book from French into English. Do I approach the publisher or author of the French book for permission to do so? And who owns the rights in the English translation?
Answer: Good assumption that you need to obtain permission to translate a book. Contact either the publisher or author – whoever is easier to reach. Then ask them who owns the rights in the French book (as this would be subject to a publishing agreement.) The translator of a work owns the copyright in the translation, in this case, the English version. (2007-4)
9.3 Question: My enterprise organizes an annual essay writing contest. We post the winning entries on our Web site and distribute a DVD with all entries. Do we need permission to do this?
Answer: Yes, copyright in an essay belongs to the author of that essay. This is true even in a contest situation. Your contest entry form could include permission from the author to you for any uses you need to make of the entry. For winning entries, you may want to go further and obtain permission to use the name of the author, and perhaps a photo of him. (2007-4)
9.4 Question: I have a slogan I would like to protect. How do I go about doing that?
Answer: Generally, slogans are not protected by copyright. The U.S. Copyright Office states that “titles, names, short phrases, and slogans; familiar symbols or designs; mere variations of typographic ornamentation, lettering, or coloring; mere listings of ingredients or contents” are not protected by copyright. If a slogan is associated with a product or service, it may be eligible for trademark protection. (2008-3)
9.5 Question: My company writes textbooks. We obtain permissions to use existing copyright-protected materials owned by others in our textbooks. Now we would like to license our content/textbooks to another party. Do we have the right to do that?
Answer: When you license content owned by others, you can ask for the permission to relicense that content to third parties. Or if you prefer not to do so (as it may cost you additional money), you may want to inform third parties that they may need to get permissions/licenses prior to reproducing your content/textbooks. (2008-3)
9.6 Question: My organization has purchased a journal article from a document supplier. May I send this article to a third party for translation into another language or does this infringe the “further reproduction, electronic storage or electronic transmission” which was expressly prohibited in the invoice from the document supplier?
Answer: Unless you own the copyright in a work, whenever you translate a work or have someone translate it on your behalf, you need permission from the copyright owner of that work. Translation is a right of every copyright holder. It is an adaptation of a work that requires advance permission. (2010-1)
9.7 Question: Do you need permission to include a painting or sculpture which appears in the background of a photograph of a person?
Answer: Some countries have exceptions from copyright law for the incidental inclusion of copyright-protected works in other copyright protected material. Generally, for the exception to apply, the use must be incidental and not deliberate. For example, the exception may allow a journalist to photograph a person with a painting in the background. (2009-2)
9.8 Question: If I find an image on “Google Images” can I use it in a book published by a non-profit organization?
Answer: Google images answers this with the following: “The images identified by the Google Image Search service may be protected by copyrights. Although you can locate and access the images through our service, we cannot grant you any rights to use them for any purpose other than viewing them on the web. Accordingly, if you would like to use any images you have found through our service, we advise you to contact the site owner to obtain the requisite permissions.” (2009-4)
9.9 Question: If I provide online rights to use my photo, am I automatically being covered by a Creative Commons License? Does it make a difference if the use is non-profit or editorial?
Answer: You may provide any sorts of rights you wish. Unless you state so, a Creative Commons license will never automatically apply to your images, even if the use is non-profit or editorial. (2010-4)
9.10 Question: Is it legal to use someone else’s recipe and publish it in a book or blog if you credit the author of the recipe?
Answer: A recipe may be protected by copyright if it is more than a mere listing of ingredients, for example, there are instructions on how to prepare and cook the ingredients. The ideas in the recipe are not protected, just the words used to express the ideas. So you may not copy the recipe per se (even if you credit the author), but you could create a similar recipe using your own words. (2010-3)
9.11 Question: The non-profit I work for is putting together a workbook and accompanying video. If we include short quotations or summaries (both cited) to help illustrate a point, can we sell the material?
Answer: Short portions of a work such as quotations or summaries may be used in some circumstances without obtaining permission. However, this depends on each particular case and you must examine various factors such as what portion, percent wise, and “value” wise you copied, competition with original and more. In some countries, this may be covered by the defense of fair use or fair dealing. Whether you sell the material or not is not by itself determinative of whether you require permission. (2011-1)
9.12 Question: How do I obtain permission to use a work created by a foreign author?
Answer: The permissions procedure for any work of any origin is the same. Determine if it is a work protected by copyright, if the duration of protection is still ongoing, and whether your use is a copyright use for which permission is required (that is, not subject to fair use (U.S.A.) or any other provision or exception in the country where the work is being reproduced.) If you need to obtain permission, you must contact the copyright holder or his representative, including a copyright collective, to obtain that permission. (2011-2)
9.13 Question: Do I always have to pay for copyright permissions?
Answer: It is up to the copyright owner to make this determination. If the copyright owner asks for a fee, you may be able to negotiate a lower fee, or negotiate for specific terms and conditions related to the fee. (2011-2)
9.14 Question: I am creating tutorials for my blog based on a book I purchased. Do I need permission from the author of the book?
Answer: No, permission is required to reproduce a part or the entire book, however you may use the ideas in the book, explain them to others and base tutorials on the contents of the book without permission. (2011-3)