Complying with copyright law takes copyright education, consistent application of the law and a person (e.g., Copyright Officer) to guide others in your library or business towards doing the right thing both legally and ethically. Many think it’s easier to have an excuse not to obtain copyright permission than it is to comply with the copyright law. Copyright officers can help others comply with the law by getting rid of their excuses to avoid copyright compliance.
8 Excuses for Not Getting Copyright Permission
We have all heard excuses for not obtaining copyright permission prior to using a copyright-protected work. We may even have uttered some of the excuses set out below. Do you have a favorite excuse or one not mentioned below? If you’re a Copyright Officer, you’ve probably heard some or all of these excuses. Take the time to determine misinformation about copyright and correct those myths quickly and frequently.
I found it online.
- Not all online content is in the public domain. Always assume that online content is protected by copyright. That’s true even if the content has no copyright symbol or notice.
I was in a hurry.
- Nothing in copyright law allows use without permission just because the consumer/user is in a hurry and must get a document to print or to include content in slides. If you plan to use copyright-protected material, plan ahead. It may take some time to clear the rights you need. A general guideline is to start obtaining copyright permissions six weeks prior to the use of the protected materials.
My boss told me to copy it.
- If your boss didn’t provide you with a written warranty that s/he will be liable if you get caught infringing, this may be the time to stand up to your boss. Not easy to do, but this may in fact be the start of your new copyright compliance program at work.
Our practical online copyright courses will help you with your copyright compliance
I’ll never get caught.
- So you know you should be obtaining permission. Everyone thinks they will never get caught…until they do.
It’s for education.
- Not all uses for educational purposes fall within an exception in copyright law. Check the Copyright Act in your country; it may provide some special limited free uses for nonprofit education, plus fair dealing or fair use may allow some educational uses too. Don’t just assume because your use is educational that you can use the content for free.
It’s for internal use.
- Whether you are using content internally or publicly, you still need to obtain permission from the copyright owner. Same is true if you are publishing content on your private Intranet or your public website.
It has a Creative Commons (CC) license.
- A CC license does not mean free; the content is subject to the terms and conditions in the CC license – read the license and see what’s allowed. There are 6 different licenses which allow different kinds of use. Each license clearly sets out what you may do and may not do with the content – follow these terms and conditions that the content owner has placed on their online content.
I emailed, called, faxed and snail mailed the copyright owner but never received a reply.
- This does not exonerate you from copyright liability. Unless the copyright owner provides permission, you may not legally use the content. Some countries have specific provisions for orphan works, works in which the author may not be found or located. The U.S. has no such provision.
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