A rather lively discussion of Copyright went on yesterday in a Facebook group. Sadly it degenerated into a couple of participants engaging in name-calling and emotional tirades. But the topic is important and I have been thinking about it more this morning.
One the one side were those who insisted that if you put something online (a family tree, an article, a photo) you must be prepared for it to be taken and used without your permission.
A few declared that if we don't want our work taken then don't put it online. Then there were those who mistakenly thought that as long as the item(s) taken were not being sold or used to make money in some way, it was okay.
Those groups are wrong. We should not simply shrug our shoulders and ignore copyright violations. Anything
original online is immediately under copyright and deserves our protection. That's where education comes in. Many times people violate copyright because they truly do not understand how the internet works and what the copyright laws are.
In response to the suggestion that if we don't want our work taken, don't put it online - if we independent webmasters stopped putting articles, photos, and data collections online, all the free websites and blogs would quickly disappear.
As for the misconception that as long as the stolen work is not being used to profit the person who took it without permission, it does
not matter what the intent is. Taking published work without permission violates copyright.
There seemed to be confusion over copyright vs plagiarism vs fair use. Here are some definitions that were posted during the discussion yesterday
of plagiarism: copying the work of someone else and publishing it as
your own without permission and without crediting the work to the
author. [Cyndi Ingle on https://www.facebook.com/groups/17834741205/ ]
of fair use: purposely gray area in copyright law. Fair use includes
using something for purely educational purposes or for review or for
satire. But the *amount* of something that can be copied and called fair
use is purposely vague. It depends on a case by case basis. [Cyndi Ingle on https://www.facebook.com/groups/17834741205/]
and the definition of copyright from the Merriam-Webster dictionary
Copyright: the exclusive legal right to reproduce, publish,
sell, or distribute the matter and form of something (as a literary,
musical, or artistic work)
Basically it means if I write and publish an article on my blog or my website, and you copy it without my permission and republish it elsewhere, you violated my copyright. It does not matter whether or not you gave attribution to me as the author, it's still a copyright violation.
If you take a paragraph or a few sentences from my original article and use them in a new article you are writing that is fair use. But if you neglect to cite me as the original author of those words, it's plagiarism
How to Play Fair and Stay Out of Trouble
Cyndi's List has quite a few links related to Copyright Laws and Issues at http://www.cyndislist.com/ip/