Archive for the ‘Theory’ Category
This post was motivated by a question I received by e-mail about Vol. 1 of the Copyright Myths & Misconceptions series. The question, which was about a post on Tina Rathore’s filling Interstices blog, asked
Is it right to write “© Copyright by tina rathore ” with every blog post? I mean shouldn’t it be “copyrighted to Tina Rathore”? Please explain.
We are discussing this on Tina’s blog (link is http://tinarathore.wordpress.com/2010/01/04/stay-awhile/). Thanks.
Of the options that were presented in this question — using “Copyright by Tina Rathore” or “Copyright to Tina Rathore” — I probably would lean toward using the latter. Ultimately, though, neither of these choices seems satisfying or correct in light of some applicable research I am doing.
Before I delve into the substantive law and theory of U.S. copyright, I will address some common myths and misconceptions I have heard routinely about this topic. As I have outlined previously, copyright now is commonly applicable to people’s everyday actions. This wide applicability, however, has not necessarily resulted in the average Joe and Jane having a higher copyright IQ.
One need look no further than Twitter to see how many of these misconceptions get originated and repeated. I have seen tweets that claimed to copyright a hairdo. I have seen tweets that assumed the year’s passage would allow them to freely copy on Jan. 1 work that was protected by copyright on Dec. 31. (Both statements are incorrect.)
But folks on Twitter are not the only ones who commonly commit basic copyright errors. News journalists — who really should know better — frequently get basic copyright concepts incorrect. Too often reporters conflate copyright and other forms of intellectual property. Even intellectual property lawyers routinely provide incorrect information about U.S. copyright. For example, I have seen posts from intellectual property lawyers that claim “If you find a picture on Flickr, another blog, or somewhere else online and upload it to your own blog (or worse yet, inline link to it from your blog) without permission, you’re committing a copyright violation.” On its face, that is simply an incorrect statement, mainly because it fails to allow for a raft of limitations in the Copyright Act of 1976.
Thus, with this post, I address (and hopefully resolve) some of the common copyright myths I have seen, heard, or encountered in my years of dealing with this topic. Consider this to be the first in a recurring series: I will provide updates occasionally as I come across newer and more interesting or perplexing myths and misconceptions.
This question seems so obvious and simple as to be undeserving of any scholarly attention. “Copyright” has a long history, tracing back to the early 18th century in Britain –- which includes the variants “copy right” and “copy-right” — so the term is not new. Yet this question is important to ask and answer for several reasons.
First, copyright no longer is a backwater discipline relegated to the inspection of nerdy specialists. Instead, it is now central to the everyday activities of most American citizens.
Second, many people –- lawyers and lay persons alike -– often conflate copyright and “intellectual property.”
Third, there are some important theoretical and political considerations that influence definitions of copyright. While these considerations are advanced issues we are more likely to address over on Copycense than here, they are important these days because of the rhetoric and framing that is being used to position copyright law and policy in one direction or another. I will summarize copyright law’s main theories in a future post, and we will devote extensive coverage to the theory of copyright in upcoming articles on Copycense.