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What is Copyright? September 13 2013, 0 Comments

According to the dictionary, COPYRIGHT is: “The exclusive right to make copies, license, and otherwise exploit a literary, musical or artistic work, whether printed, audio, video, etc. works granted by law on or after January 1, 1978, are protected for the lifetime of the author or creator and for a period of fifty years after his or her death.”

It is true that as soon as you write a story, paint a painting, compose a song, or press the stutter button on your camera, that work of art belongs to you and only you. It applies to software someone has created, or blueprints, etc…

More than a decade ago when people started to download music without paying for it, several major music companies began suing individuals and rightly so. Copying, reproducing, scanning or in any other way using another person's work without permission is stealing. Plan and simple. The comment I have heard through the years is “Oh what does it hurt?” Let me explain…

First, what you are taking isn’t yours. Secondly, you keep the artist from making a living. Truly. I have had to retire images because I could no longer keep up with the ways in which some of the images were being stolen. It has cost me thousands in income. And no I can’t afford to lose income. People who steal other peoples work degrade the work itself. It’s like saying, “Yes, I want your art but I shouldn’t have to pay for it.” Really? When you go to work does your boss want you to be productive but then say that he /she shouldn’t have to pay you?? Try eating that for dinner!

I always hope that artists take the time to register their work, whatever art form it is, with the Federal Copyright Office. This ensures a couple of things. First, your work is on file as YOUR work. Secondly, it allows you to sue for damages. If someone uses your work without permission, even on a Facebook page, you can sue them and will probably get a judgment by the court. However, work that has been filed with the Federal Copyright Office allows you to sue for damages.

For example, if a person uses your work on their own website without permission, and makes $500,000 as a result, you can sue them based on what they earned as a result of using your work without permission. This holds true for someone who uses your image without permission for the simplest of things such as an invitation. If it is copied and distributed say, 100 times, you can receive damages for each time it was distributed. In short, 100 times.

Violating copyright is serious. Many believe that they cannot be sued if they use something they don’t make money off of. WRONG! Just ask the folks that were fined $10,000 per download when they stole music in those early days of illegal downloading!

For more information on Federal Copyright procedures, go to: www.copyright.gov