Copyright Infringement Is Real And Something To Consider [Consumer]

by on March 2, 2011

in consumer

In this day and age, we’re seeing more and more public displays of companies going after people for copyright infringement. The internet is making it that much easier to redistribute information. Add that to what I’ve coined the “wild west mentality” of this new and budding medium, people are going to either get burned or others will learn from their experiences. Well, the smart ones will observe and learn.

A few events have had this knocking around in my head and today a great, right to the point article from the Orlando Sentinel sparked my writing mode.

I’m sure you are all aware that during the early phases of the filming of the Michael Bay directed Transformers 3: Dark of the Moon, Paramount went after the people that video taped the production company doing their job. The problem, per Paramount was that folks videoed their copyrighted work then posted it on YouTube. Paramount felt this infringed on their copyrighted material. Everyone else on the other side of the coin thought it was overkill. Then again, it wasn’t their content, though emotionally I sided with the general public as the wondered what good this would do the marketing of the film. (Nothing is going to hurt the film, it has its own life.)

There are other examples of potential copyright infringement every single day. A lot of websites snag images from where ever and use them to accent their online articles because they’re told it helps attract readers. But they don’t bother figuring out where the images came from, they just re-publicize.

A couple of my “favorite” websites do that constantly and I’m surprised and not surprised nothing has come of it yet.

I’m not surprised because when the general public tunes into the web, they’re not ET, or EW or People websites. On the other hand, if I can be found and given a C&D, I’m surprised some of these other sites aren’t hand-slapped. My guess is it’s not worth the time unless the other websites get unlucky enough to republish an image that becomes a huge focal point for whatever reason for the originating source.

I strive to only use images that are distributed to be via press channels from sources that I have permissions to access. When you see my articles with images of an event, those are images I have permission to access and use, as press. Or other images are those that the studios and what not distribute with the sole intent of marketing of a movie or project.

Some years back Perez Hilton was snagged for a serious amount of money for using images he didn’t pay to have access to. Exact numbers weren’t released, but I remember him saying that the fine was a significant number.

I’ve always been surprised when video jockeys take copyrighted materials and re-mash them up into something totally different.

But as Marshall Leaffer, Distinguished Scholar in Intellectual Property Law at Indiana University, put it, thinking it’s OK to borrow others work under the premise of “fair use” is a bit of a misnomer. He said there’s no such thing as a 10% rule and the ‘the poor man’s copyright,’ which entails putting something in an envelope and mailing to yourself is also something that gives you zero rights.

The premise behind copyrighted material usage is this:

Ask for permission to use another person’s material or images and spend the $35 and register your original content with the U.S. Copyright Office.

Mr. Leaffer put it, if you’re hitting up Google with copyright questions, it’s time to consult a lawyer. If you based your idea of “fair use” and copyright laws off of what another person who is not a lawyer says, in the end, you could be spending a lot of money defending yourself from a bad situation based on word of mouth. That would be embarrassing.



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