Can I copyright my website’s content? Reply

Yes – copyright is a form of intellectual property that protects original works of authorship copyrightincluding content on a website. For example, original text, videos, graphics, animation, photographs, music, sound recordings, illustrations, translations and other original content featured on a website can be copyrighted.

Two ways to use copyright to protect original content on a website are: 1) to use a copyright notice on the website, and 2) copyright registration with the U.S. Copyright Office.

A few points to keep in mind regarding copyrighting website content:

  • Using a date range in the copyright notice may be beneficial if new content is posted periodically.  For example, © 2011-2014 Ima Starr.  All rights reserved.
  • An application for copyright registration only covers the original content that is submitted with the application and will not include future updates.
  • If content on the website is updated frequently, it may be a good idea to file new applications for copyright registration periodically, as needed.
  • The author, creator, and owner of the content may or may not be the same person. This is an important component to consider and sort out before applying for copyright registration.
  • If the website features original creative content such as books, music, jewelry designs, photographs, architectural designs, fabric designs, photographs or other original works of authorship it may be a good idea to also register these works with the U.S. Copyright Office before making them available on the website.
  • Note, that copyright does not protect names, logos, titles or slogans. In some cases, these may be protectable as trademarks.

Here are links for more information on how to write a copyright notice, adding a copyright notice to a website and applying for copyright registration with the U.S. Copyright Office.

BY: Vanessa Kaster, Esq., LL.M.

For personalized legal services you are welcome to contact me at vk@kasterlegal.com

See also: U.S. Copyright Office Circular 66 titled, Copyright Registration for Online Works at http://copyright.gov/circs/circ66.pdf and U.S. Copyright Office on “What does copyright protect” at http://copyright.gov/help/faq/faq-protect.html#idea; @iplegalfreebies and www.kasterlegal.com.

Summary for Photographers of IP Legal Freebies: Reply

And a few lagniappe topics:

This post is a valentine for my mom… who will be lecturing on this topic for other authors and photographers over the weekend.

BY: Vanessa Kaster, Esq., LL.M.

For personalized legal services you are welcome to contact me at vk@kasterlegal.com

 

Copyright Law – Using photos of other people on your website, blog or publications Reply

Using recognizable pictures of other people on your website, blog or publication of any kind requires their express permission (unless they are a celebrity or it is ‘newsworthy’ photo).  How do you do this?  Ask them for permission AND have them sign a simple agreement giving you permission to use their image.  Specify in the agreement the ways, websites, publications etc where the photo will be used.

Here are a few myths and truths on this topic: 

MYTH:  Just because you took a photo of the bride at her wedding gives you permission to use it on your website

MYTH:  Having permission to use a portrait in a book automatically gives you permission to use it in a film

MYTH:  It’s okay to use a portrait you took of someone in a public place without permission

TRUTH:  Virtually any photo of a celebrity is considered newsworthy and okay to use

Cover your bases and get permission to use the photos you take of other people at the time you take the picture.  (These types of agreements are called a Photo Release or Model Release).

See –> http://wp.me/p10nNq-J for more information on Photo releases and www.kasterlegal.com.

BY: Vanessa Kaster, Esq., LL.M.

For personalized legal services you are welcome to contact me at vk@kasterlegal.com

Copyright Law: Using someone else’s photograph in your blog, website or promo materials 2

If you have reached this posting because you Googled, “is it free to use photographs taken from another person’s website” ….the answer is probably NO… and this post is dedicated to you.

Just because it is EASY to access and copy photographs via the internet doesn’t mean that the photographs are free for the taking.  Copying a photograph from another website or online article or blog can easily violate another person’s copyright in the image.

Did you know that every original work (including photographs, designs, poetry, text, music… etc) that is created in the US today, is instantly vested with copyright as soon as it is written down, printed… or ‘fixed in any tangible form’?  It’s true.  Copyright is instantly vested in fixed, original works and this means that the owner has the right to monetize the work. (ie charge a fee to license or sell a photograph).

As you might guess, the price to license a photograph depends on how you plan to use the image and for how long.  For example to license a photograph from Getty Images for 1 month, to use on a social media site costs approximately $160… and $360 for 3 months.  (the price varies by image etc).  Or hire a photographer to take photographs for you!  Or take them yourself.

BY: Vanessa Kaster, Esq., LL.M.

For personalized legal services you are welcome to contact me at vk@kasterlegal.com

See also: http://www.gettyimages.com

Privacy Policies are often required on commercial websites

If a commercial website collects personal information from consumers and users, it is often required that a Privacy Policy be posted to the website.  Here are FOUR things to know about Privacy Policies:

  • ITS THE LAW, to post a Privacy Policy if a website is directed to children under 13 or a website operator knows that personal information is being collected from kids under 13
  • ITS THE LAW, to post a Privacy Policy if any personally identifying information is collected from consumers based in California
  • The EU, Canada and Australia require that website operators who collect personally identifiable information from consumers in within their borders post Privacy Policies.  Even if you are operating a website from another country, posting a Privacy Policy is recommended if you are collecting information from people in these countries.
  • POST AN ACCURATE PRIVACY POLICY.  This sounds obvious, but it’s important that the Privacy Policy that you post is accurate, relevant to your business, clear and is not deceptive.

For more information see: State Laws: http://www.ncsl.org/default.aspx?tabid=13463; Children’s Online Privacy: http://business.ftc.gov/privacy-and-security/children%E2%80%99s-online-privacy; EU ‘safe harbor’ arrangement: http://www.ita.doc.gov/td/ecom/menu.html; @iplegalfreebies and www.kasterlegal.com.

BY: Vanessa Kaster, Esq., LL.M.

For personalized legal services you are welcome to contact me at vk@kasterlegal.com

 

Were you wondering what happened to Jamie Thomas (she was sued in 2006 by Capitol Records for illegally downloading songs)? 5

Do you remember the hoopla that surfaced in 2006 when Jamie Thomas was sued by Capitol Records for illegally downloading 24 songs for her personal use?  Were you wondering what happened to her?  ANSWER: she’s been in and out of court this whole time… and last week a District Court Judge drastically reduced the damages awarded to the record company on a constitutional basis.

The Story:  Ms. Jamie Thomas illegally downloaded 24 songs on Kazaa (for her personal use) and was sued by Capitol Records.  After Capitol Records sued Ms. Jamie Thomas for illegally downloading 24 songs that they own…. a copyright controversy swelled when the jury awarded damages of $222,000 ($9,250 per song) for Jamie’s infringement.  The media continued to follow the case as it moved in and out of court and the damages awarded to Capitol Records for Jamie’s copyright violation shifted upward from $222,000 ($9,250 per song) to 1,920,000 ($80,000 per song) and back down to $1,500,000 ($62,500 per song).

Last week, a District Court Judge reduced the damages awarded by the jury to Capitol Records from $1,500,000 ($62,500 per song) to $54,000 ($2,250 per song).  The judge’s opinion stats that the reduced award is ‘substantial’, ‘acts as a potent deterrent’ and is the ‘maximum amount permitted under the Constitution.’   The court reasoned that awarded damages are unconstitutional when they violate due process for being severe, oppressive and obviously unreasonable.   (It’s rare for a court to reduce statutory damages.)

What happens now?  This decision could be appealed again by either side.

The decision can be read at: http://www.scribd.com/doc/60635512/Order-on-Motions-to-Amend-Alter-Verdict-in-Capitol-v-Thomas-Rasset  also see, http://www.copyhype.com

BY: Vanessa Kaster, Esq., LL.M.

For personalized legal services you are welcome to contact me at vk@kasterlegal.com.

 

Search for misappropriated photographs and artwork online with Google Images Reply

Tracking your copyright protected images and photographs on the internet is an important and often time consuming task.  Once a digital photo is posted to a website or distributed electronically it is possible for the photo to be misappropriated and used by other folks without your permission.  (It’s easy to do, it happens all the time, and often the offenders don’t even know that they have done any wrong.)

Keeping tabs on who is using your copyright protected images is important because, it helps you control your photos, preserve your licensing revenue streams and protects the copyright vested in your work.

One simple way to search for uses of your photographs online is by using Google Images.  Google Images allows a Google search to be run on an image, instead of a ‘text search term’.  It’s easy; you just drag an image into the search field and click ‘Search Images’.

Try it –> http://www.google.com/imghp

For example, I just ran a search on the cover photo of a book and the results that came up were websites using the image or a similar image.  Not all the results listed were infringing uses.  Some of the results are legitimate.  It’s easy to scroll through the Google Image results and identify infringing uses.  (The Google Images search works for artwork too.)

BY: Vanessa Kaster, Esq., LL.M.

For personalized legal services you are welcome to contact me at vk@kasterlegal.com

 

Copyright protection starts automatically 2

When does copyright protection start?  It starts automatically, as soon as you create an original work.  It’s like having a baby (ie your creative, brain child)… as soon as it’s in this world it’s yours and it’s covered by copyright protection.   You don’t have to DO anything… other than create it and put it in a fixed and tangible form.

What does this mean?  As soon as you have written a song down; typed out a manuscript; applied pen or paint to paper… copyright protection starts automatically.

Using the copyright symbol © and registering your copyright with the US Copyright Office are two extra steps that give you more rights in your copyrighted work if and when you want to sell it, transfer it or protect it from being abused, misused or copied by other folks.

There is 99.999% chance that you have created original works that are already covered by copyright protection… even if you didn’t know it.

For more info SEE:

–>    How and why to use the © copyright symbol?: http://t.co/iBjePPU

–>    Copyright registration only costs $35: http://t.co/ykPmZ3T

 

BY: Vanessa Kaster, Esq., LL.M.

For personalized legal services you are welcome to contact me at vk@kasterlegal.com

Copyright Law: Using quotes from someone else in your book, blog or website (part 2) 4

When quotes from copyright protected works can be used in other books, blogs or websites without permission of the copyright owner… is a popular topic… lets explore it further.

As I’ve mentioned before that this is a gray area.  Unfortunately, there are no set rules about how much or what percentage of a copyrighted work can be used for free (ie without permission of the copyright owner); however, here is a tip to keep in mind.  The HEART of a work is heavily protected by copyright law.  What does this mean?  This could be a famous and popular refrain that embodies the HEART of a famous speech; This could be 300 words out of an unpublished memoir that reveals the key (or HEART) of the story; This could be an original and unique part of a song or lyrics (ie the HEART of the work).

Courts use a sophisticated, multi-part test to evaluate when a portion of a copyrighted work can be used without permission.  For the rest of us… using common sense is a good place to start.  If you are copying the HEART of someone else’s work to use in your blog, book or website… permission is probably needed.

For more info on this topic see these other two posts:  http://t.co/2rhWznM and http://wp.me/p10nNq-fd AND for more info on PUBLIC DOMAIN works that are FREE to use and quote from —> http://wp.me/p10nNq-ft  and http://wp.me/p10nNq-gn); @iplegalfreebies and www.kasterlegal.com.

BY: Vanessa Kaster, Esq., LL.M.

For personalized legal services you are welcome to contact me at vk@kasterlegal.com

ORIGINALITY is Key To Copyright Reply

Originality is key to securing copyright protection over a work.  This is true for literary works, sculptures, paintings, music and all varieties of creative output.  While this may seem obvious, in truth it’s a gray area.  Here are a few examples:

  • TELEPHONE DIRECTORY, WHITE PAGES:  not original; therefore, no copyright protection.
  • PHOTOGRAPH OF AN ARMFUL OF PUPPIES: is original; therefore, making a sculpture that is a deliberate copy of the photograph is a copyright violation.
  • A PAINTING: is original; however, making an engraving of the painting is not a copyright violation because of the engravers artistic use of light, shade, lines and dots.

MARDI GRAS INDIAN COSTUMES: possibly original works of sculpture.  At present the Mardi Gras Indians are seeking copyright projection for their elaborate costumes as works of sculpture.

What does this mean?  For the Mardi Gras Indians it will mean that photo releases, licenses and fees will need to be paid to the Indian sculptors before others copy, reproduce and sell their images as photographs, fine art, in calendars or on t-shirts.

BY: Vanessa Kaster, Esq., LL.M.

For personalized legal services you are welcome to contact me at vk@kasterlegal.com

for info on copyright registration –> http://t.co/ynaHCbX; @iplegalfreebies and www.kasterlegal.com.