Copyright is starting to become a heated area in small business.
The rise of the Internet has meant that the ability for others to copy your work has eased significantly. Unfortunately, there are some people out there that think that stealing other people’s work and passing it off as their own is fine and morally okay.
It continues to astound us every time how brazen these people are, thinking they have relative anonymity online, and usually will only stop when told by a lawyer to do so. They rely on begging for forgiveness than asking permission.
For a business owner, it strikes at the very core of all your hard work and toil, creating valuable content over a long period of time, only to have it ripped off by someone else.
You do have inherent copyright in your words and works and you have enforceable rights, however it’s very important – especially with social media – to take adequate steps to protect it.
The presumption is: if you create it, you own it. For the reason that copyright automatically applies to written and artistic works from the moment they’re created. This is what is meant when someone tells you that you have “inherent rights in your words”.
What it does is communicate to people that you recognise the importance of this work from an intellectual property perspective and that you will be willing to take steps to prevent breach of that copyright if someone were to copy it and pass it off as their own.
But what happens when you want to use content you find online?
If you want to use content that wasn’t created by you:
Check terms and conditions for guidelines on how images and content may be used. Terms and conditions often appear at the foot of a webpage. Look out for wording along the following lines:‘The content displayed on our website is protected by copyright under the Australian Copyright Act 1968 (the Act). You agree not to copy, distribute or modify content from the Site without our express written consent.”“We authorise printing of content for personal use only and, all other use, copying or reproduction of this website or any part of it is prohibited (except to the extent permitted by law).” If the guidelines are there, follow them. And if you’re unsure how to follow them, chat with us.
If you can’t see any guidelines, seek consent from the creator of the content even if the proposed use of the content is non-commercial.
Does changing content by ‘10%’ mean you don’t need permission?
Making changes to the content doesn’t absolve the need to obtain consent. A qualitative, not quantitative, test will be applied.
While the definition of ‘fair dealings’ is unclear and subject to interpretation on a case by case basis, there are general exceptions that cover content used for the purpose of:
research or study
criticism or review
parody or satire
providing legal advice.
Give credit for content, even if you have permission
You have a legal obligation to credit the author when you use their work, unless the author has agreed not to be credited, or it is not ‘reasonable’ to credit them. Using a work for the purposes of criticism, review or reporting news is conditional on crediting the author and title of the work. In other cases, you might need permission even though you credit them.
Consider using a copyright agency as an option
A copyright agency may be able to assist you with your online content needs. In fact, agencies obtain ‘blanket’ licences for internal use in organisations and institutions. Furthermore, they can also offer a pay-per-use licence for text and images.
If in doubt, chat with us!
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