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Avoid copyright infringement

5 ways to protect your business

June 25, 2013

Home Blog Avoid copyright infringement

Copyright infringement has never been easier or more tempting.

Social media sharing and the demands of generating content for blogs, websites, and other forms of communication are too easily fulfilled with a simple ‘copy and paste’ function.

Because of this, rights and permissions management is becoming an important consideration. And copyrights and other forms of intellectual property are becoming more closely guarded and hotly contested than ever.

For copyright protection in the digital environment, the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) was enacted in 1998 to balance the interests of internet service providers and copyright owners when copyright infringement occurs online.

U.S. Copyright law provides remedies for infringement in the form of injunctions, impounding and disposition of infringing articles, damages and recovery of costs/attorney’s fees. Legal costs can be high, especially for patents, which can run into millions of dollars. Copyright and Trademark cases tend to be less technical, yet even those can run into hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Companies are at greater risk, therefore it’s important to implement safeguards to protect your business.

Five Ways to Protect Your Business from the Consequences of Copyright Infringement

1. Never allow employees, contractors or anyone working on behalf of your business to directly copy and paste or reproduce anything created by somebody else. While this should go without saying, it’s better to have a clear written policy, particularly for those engaged in blogging, social media or other regular online activities.

2. Understand copyright law. Copyright is automatic, but you have to register with the U.S. Copyright Office to sue someone who infringes on your rights. Copyright does not protect facts, nor does it generally protect underlying ideas. That means you can express your own thoughts about ideas and facts from other works. However, those other sources must be referenced and credited. For example, you could draw from other blog posts as long as you give the author credit, generally through a link to the original page.

3. Understand public domain. Public domain works are appealing because they are not copyrighted, making their use both legal and free. Public domain works are governed by authorship or age. Regarding authorship, everything created by employees of the U.S. government in the course of doing their work is in the public domain. Also, the creator of a work can give blanket permission for others to use their work. The concept of Creative Commons was developed for usage in these cases. Regarding age, works published before 1923 are in the public domain, however some exceptions do apply.

4. Understand Fair Use.  The concept of fair use or fair dealing applies to teaching, critiques, comments (including those made online), research, reporting and other critical commentary. The purpose is to make sure copyright laws don’t cross the line to infringe upon freedom of speech. It does not grant the right to use fair rule as a guise to freely copy and paste such commentary.

5. Establish policies, systems and tools to safeguard your organization from copyright and other IP infringement. Because individuals violate copyrights and legal use of other digital assets, it’s important to have written policies, and to guarantee enforcement throughout the organization with technology and procedures to back them up.

We offer a comprehensive array of rights management consulting services to help organizations determine rights and procure copyright permissions. The rights agencies we work with include ASCAP, BMI, MPLC, SESAC, and the CCC as well as similar agencies outside of the U.S.

Contact us directly if interested in learning more how we can help your organization with rights and permissions management.

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