How To Copyright
Date Posted: 29/01/2018 | Category:
You’ve heard of copyright and you know to be careful of using other people’s work, but do you know when you’re overstepping the line? Because sometimes it’s okay to copy…right?
What is copyright?
Copyright is the entitlement of the author to protect their work from being reproduced. It is automatically given to all works providing they are original and can be copied. It does not need to be applied for or registered, it is inherent in the work.
What does copyright apply to?
Copyright applies across a range of mediums, generally artistic, literary or dramatic such as books, song lyrics and titles and images. However, the general rule to be aware of is that copyright lasts the life of the author plus 70 years. This means that a huge amount of those things we encounter daily such as an article on the internet or a new book will have copyright protection, making it important that we treat works appropriately when using them in our own writing.
What about the internet?
It is a common misconception that the internet is treated differently when it comes to copyright – after all the work is out there for everyone to read freely – but in fact there is very little variation to the rules protecting printed text. The internet should, however, be treated with caution due to issues with reliability and sourcing the original author. How do you know, for example, that the website you are viewing is the owner of the original content and is that content even accurate?
It’s easy to forget that the images we find online, for example when we do a Google image search, are equally protected by copyright. Someone will have spent time creating that image and therefore they will own the copyright. This means we cannot simply copy a picture from an image search to use in a published work. This would be a clear copyright infringement. Instead, it is far better to create your own artwork or get a design team to help, something which Spiderwize can provide for you.
So is copying a total no-go…?
When it comes to copyright, reproducing parts of other people’s work (without permission) isn’t completely ruled out. Under the principle of ‘Fair Dealing’ you can use quotations from someone else’s work, although this is where it can become slightly murky as it depends on several factors:
- How much of the work are you reproducing?
- What is the purpose of the reproduced work?
- What effect might your reproduction have on the original work?
- The content of what you reproduced – it might only have been eight words, but were these the most famous eight words in the book?
This means there is no hard and fast rule on what you can and can’t copy, so always err on the side of caution. The less you copy, if at all, the better.
If you do find you need to quote someone else’s work, as often happens in critical or review-based books, you must always reference correctly, demonstrating the text has come from another source. This applies to both printed works and information found online.
For a printed book, your reference must include the title of the book, the author’s name and the year of publication. For the internet you must include the website address and the date you viewed it.
Where do I go from here?
If you feel strongly that it is important to reproduce another person’s work, then you need to consider whether it falls under the Fair Dealing requirements. If it’s a larger chunk you may need to seek permission from the copyright owner, however this can be a complicated and lengthy process. Before embarking on borrowing someone else’s work, consider whether it is really necessary or are your own words enough?
And remember… if you aren’t sure whether you have permission to use some else’s work then don’t do it!