Excuses for Not Obtaining Copyright Permission

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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? Please share it by adding a comment at the end of this post.

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.

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.

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.

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 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.

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.

Learn more about copyright law.

4 Comments

  1. Chris Barton says:

    “We didn’t have any money allocated in the budget for photos.”

  2. Linda Tanaka says:

    It’s under 500 words and our company has set that as a level for free use and we will not pursue permission.

  3. Lesley says:

    That’s a great one too, Tanya, thanks!

  4. Tanya says:

    My personal favorite is “We own it, we don’t need permission” Great list Lesley!

Comments are now closed for this article.

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