Copyright and Fair Use Explained
Copyright is the protection of an original work produced in the field of literature, music or art. As this is the creativity of an individual mind, it deserves all efforts to keep it from being reproduced by anyone illegally. Whether it be photographs, films or simply a piece of writing, Copyright Law applies to all original works. This Law uses legal principles and rules to prevent an author’s personalized work from being copied unlawfully.
Not all works can be copyrighted, there are certain conditions. For a work to be eligible for this protection, it must be original, in a tangible form, and that the ideas must be in the form of expression.
Copyright Law is not violated every time a piece of work is copied. A good comparative study must be conducted between the original and accused work. Similarities are sorted and means of access to the original work is sought. But to prove a reproduction to be an infringement, the assessment method is quite vague. Therefore, different tests have evolved over the years to help courts make an infringement decision better like given below:
The Lay Observers’ Test is conducted with an audience comprising of ordinary people and the alleged work is presented to them for analysis. A group of reasonably sensible people chalk down the similarities in the two works and help the court in determining whether the original work has been unlawfully reproduced or not. But this test only aims at the general similarities and not the minute details. Due to this, specialized experts’ opinion may differ from that of the general public and vice versa
The Extrinsic-Intrinsic Test is most appropriate for literary work such as books and script but can also be applied to musical compositions and artwork.
It was devised by the US Court of Appeals and consists of two parts. The extrinsic test is more detailed with expert opinion and focuses on more technical areas as type of artwork involved, materials used and subject matter. Intrinsic test depends more on the decision of the general audience.
Both these tests are put together in the end to determine if a copyrighted piece has been wrongfully appropriated.
The Abstraction, Filtration and Comparison Test is third such test. Abstraction is the analysis of every step in the production of a work for the examination of similarities at each point. Filtration then eliminates unpredictable elements such as ideas, facts, public domain information and merger materials. Finally comparison decides where copyright law has been voided. The challenge faced here is demarcating that line between idea and expression as idea does not qualify for copyright while expression does. It is also hard to determine here when the idea-expression limit is crossed.
The results to such cases of violation of Copyright Law vary from product to product and depend greatly on the method of analysis applied. Decisions by general public differ from that of the experts and determining idea-expression boundary varies individually. Therefore, small changes in test methods can have big impacts on the concluding results.
Here is what Wikipedia have printed regarding Getty Images and their enforcement practices. We leave it to you to decide if this is copyright and fair use or abuse of that power.
Controversial practices to enforce copyright
Beginning in 2008, Getty Images has created controversy in its manner of pursuing copyright enforcement on behalf of its photographers. Rather than pursue a policy of sending out “cease and desist” notices, Getty typically mails out a demand letter claiming substantial sums of damages to owners of websites which it believes have used their images in infringement of their photographers’ copyright. Getty commonly tries to intimidate website owners by sending collection agents, even though a demand letter cannot create a debt.
One photographer noted: “courts don’t like to be used as a means of extortion.” In one case, Getty sent a church in Lichfield, Staffordshire, a £6,000 bill for photographs used on its website, apparently placed there by a church volunteer. In this case, the church offered to pay Getty what it thought was a reasonable amount. The diocese’s communications director said:
“Getty was not playing ball or following the normal litigation or dispute resolution procedures and [I advised the church] to ignore them. We don’t deal with bullies; we deal with legal threats appropriately. I told [Getty] by letter that’s what [the church was] doing, that we were not going to play, and didn’t hear any more.”
The Guardian described other instances in which Getty or other stock photo businesses dropped the matter when a website owner refused to pay or hired a lawyer. A law firm was quoted as saying: “Once we get involved generally Getty does back off.”
In 2009, Oscar Michelen, a New York attorney who focuses on such damages claims, said: “The damages they’re requesting aren’t equal to the copyright infringement,” and “there’s no law that says definitively what images are worth in the digital age.”He called Getty’s effort to assess four-figure fines “a legalized form of extortion.”
In an effort to combat online copyright infringement, in March 2014 Getty Images made over 35 million images available free for non-commercial online use via embedding with attribution and a link back to the Getty Images website. According to Getty Images executive Craig Peters, “The principle is to turn what’s infringing use with good intentions, turning that into something that’s valid licensed use with some benefits going back to the photographer”. read more on this here
Copyright and Fair Use Video
Published on Mar 12, 2013
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