As you build your business website, you might stumble across material you know to be copyrighted and wonder if it’s okay for you to use such material on your site. With the way the Internet has grown in leaps and bounds, copyright laws pertaining to online use are still in the development phase. Be that as it may, it’s still in your best interest to find out for sure whether you can actually use copyrighted material on your commercial site.
Gaining a foundation of copyright protection is a good way to start. Doing so gives you a deeper perspective as to whether the material you’re considering is truly protected or available for fair use. Simply put, a work has to be minimally creative, original and rooted in a tangible medium in order for it to qualify for copyright protection. Once a piece of work meets these three unique requirements, it’s instantly protected by copyright, and that’s even if the creator has yet to file for copyright or add the word “copyright” to the material in question.
Specific types of material that can be protected by copyright include musical, literary and artistic works, such as:
•Audiovisual works (movies)
Bear in mind that copyright currently protects a creative work for the entire life of the creator and 70 years after the creator’s death. For works with multiple creators, the protection lasts 70 years after the death of the last surviving creator. There’re also protections for works for hire, which is 95 years after publication, or 120 years after the original creation.
You have to consider the specific rights copyright protects to help you determine whether you’re infringing upon someone’s copyright. An example of such a right is reproducing the work. What’s more is the copyrighted work’s creator has the right to adapt and distribute the work and make derivative works. By adding copyrighted material to your business website, you run the risk of violating at least one of these rights.
Before you pull copyrighted material from your site or look elsewhere for viable material, know that there are exceptions to copyright protection. Chief among them is the fair use doctrine, which lets you use copyrighted material without first getting permission to do so. The overall character and purpose of use, the nature of the protected work and the overall portion of the copyrighted material being used are all factors that determine whether given use of the copyrighted material would be considered fair use.
When the copyright expires, or if the creator decides to release the work to the public, it becomes part of the public domain and free to use. Again, remember that just because a creative work isn’t marked as copyrighted doesn’t automatically mean it’s up for grabs.
Sidestepping Issues With Copyright
Time is most definitely of the essence when it comes to business, but there’s always time to do your part in avoiding unnecessary legal matters. When it comes to copyrighted material, it’s in your absolute best interest to first secure written permission from the creator of the material you wish to use on your site. You can still be in violation of a copyright should you use material as part of your offline marketing campaign if you only received written permission to use the material on your site. You have to receive permission for each and every use of the material for each and every medium through which you utilize the material.
If you’re ever in doubt about a piece of material or are unable to get in touch with the original creator, you can either look elsewhere or seek help from an experienced intellectual property attorney. Always err on the side of extreme caution when it comes to copyright.
The content on our website is only meant to provide general information and is not legal advice. We make our best efforts to make sure the information is accurate, but we cannot guarantee it. Do not rely on the content as legal advice. For assistance with legal problems or for a legal inquiry please contact you attorney.