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Home :: Archive :: 2004 :: June ::
Copyright Question
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 15.1334  Tuesday, 22 June 2004

[1]     From:   William Davis <
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        Date:   Monday, 21 Jun 2004 11:41:13 -0400
        Subj:   Re: SHK 15.1320 Copyright Question

[2]     From:   Larry Weiss <
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        Date:   Monday, 21 Jun 2004 13:54:13 -0400
        Subj:   Re: SHK 15.1320 Copyright Question


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           William Davis <
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Date:           Monday, 21 Jun 2004 11:41:13 -0400
Subject: 15.1320 Copyright Question
Comment:        Re: SHK 15.1320 Copyright Question

My last posting somehow didn't make it to the list (perhaps it has
something to do with being on AOL, so I thought I would try again - and
this time add a short addendum):

A couple quick thoughts:  here in the States, there is an organization
called "Lawyers for the Arts" which is a group of lawyers who give free
advice to artists (they're located in both New York and Los Angeles).  I
am not sure if a similar organization exists in Canada, but it might not
hurt to check around with artistic groups who might be aware of such an
organization, local law firms for a referral, or even the government.

In terms of this particular publication, I would recommend seeking
appropriate permissions, before publishing them to a website (unless the
quotes you use are short enough to qualify for "fair use" under
international copyright laws).  I'm not up to speed on current
international law, but the term for copyright covers something like (and
I'm going off memory here) the life of the copyright holder plus 50
years, before entering the public domain.   I am not a lawyer, however,
so that should just be a guide and not considered formal legal advice.
A book published in 1966 would almost certainly still be protected.  And
even though the Soviet Union is now defunct, those copyrights registered
by publishers for the intellectual property of their materials would not
have dissolved with the Iron Curtain. I hope that helps,

In addition, after reading the most recent posts, I would like to add a
word or two of caution.  First, "fair use" does not mean "reproduction."
  In other words, "fair use" does not permit you to make wholesale
copies of material to a website for the sole purpose of reproducing
material you want to share.  There are limitations to "fair use."  The
Berne Convention (used by many European countries for international law)
states in Article 10(1) that fair use is defined as "quotations from a
work which has already been lawfully made available to the public,
provided that their making is compatible with fair practice, and their
extent does not exceed that justified by the purpose..."  Now the good
news, I just discovered that if you can demonstrate that passages - of
virtually any length - are covered by the focus of your use, then you
can use them as "fair use."  The Berne Convention does not state a
specific and express limitation on the size of quotes you make.  Just be
sure to cite the source.  And again, "fair use" also implies that you
are making some sort of critical analysis of the material, and not
simply reproducing it.

Finally, as far as scary stories go, you're not likely to have a
problem.  The only way you would run into a problem is if someone from
the publishing company, or legal representatives for the company, become
aware of your use.  If they had a problem with it, they would likely
notify you and request that you remove the material. However, if the
company feels that you have somehow benefited economically from the
posting, the possibility of being sued becomes very real.  I used to
work in a law firm that dealt specifically with intellectual property
and copyright laws, both transactional and in litigation, and I know
from my own experience that lawsuits are not, by any means, a myth.  I
do not have a book of international copyright law cases to provide you
with specific examples, but here in the US there is a publication called
"Copyright Law Decisions" published by CCH Incorporated
(http://www.cch.com) that is stuffed full of copyright law cases where
people were sued for overstepping the bounds of "fair use."

All the best,
William Davis

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Larry Weiss <
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Date:           Monday, 21 Jun 2004 13:54:13 -0400
Subject: 15.1320 Copyright Question
Comment:        Re: SHK 15.1320 Copyright Question

 >Contrary to what lawyers might tell you, excerpts for the purposes of
 >criticism and comment are covered by conventions of 'fair use' and you
 >need have no qualms at all about putting them on your website.  If a
 >rights owner objects, you could simply desist and the matter would end
 >there. Horror stories of people being prosecuted for this sort of thing
 >are entirely fictitious. Ask anyone who tells you a horror story about
 >what you're planning to do to cite a case where someone got prosecuted.
 >To my knowledge (and I've asked a lot of people) there are no cases.

Somehow this brings to mind the Inns of Court ditty:

    On this festive occasion our spirit unbends
    Let us never forget the professions best friends
    So we'll send the wine round and a nice bumper fill
    To the jolly testator who makes his own will

But don't worry; Gabe Egan will indemnify anyone who follows his advice.

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