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Guide to United States Copyright Law as Applied to Multimedia Productions
Walker, Alice. "Copyright Law as Applied to Multimedia Productions" SUCCEED WWW Server (1995) http://succeed.engr.vt.edu/copyinfo.html
Producers and users of multimedia programs need to be aware of, and abide by, copyright law. Since multimedia productions often combine text, graphics, images, animation, audio, motion video, and computer authoring systems from a variety of sources, it would be well to know how the use of these materials is affected by legal constraints.
Although many books and articles have been written on the subject of copyright, some areas have not been specifically addressed, primarily because applicable cases have not been tested in court. Much uncertainty exists, and most areas are subject to interpretation.
The following summary is an attempt to bring together some of what is known regarding copyright as applied to multimedia. While not an exhaustive study, it is intended as a starting point to make producers and users aware of the issues involved.
Public Law 94-553
U.S. copyright is federal law, originating from the U.S. Constitution (Art. 1, sec. 8, cl. 8), which provides Congress with the power "to promote science and the useful arts, by securing for limited times to authors . . . the exclusive right to their . . . writings."
Copyright, as described in Public Law 94-553, enacted October 19, 1976, applies to "...original works of authorship fixed in any tangible medium of expression, now known or later developed..." (cl. 102) including:
pantomimes and choreographic works;
pictorial, graphic, and sculptural works;
motion pictures and other audiovisual works;
Some materials are not protected by copyright. For example, you may be able to use materials that are in the public domain, such as any work of the United States Government (cl. 105). You may also be able to use works published without notice prior to the change in the law that eliminated the notice requirement (March 1, 1989, the effective date of the Berne Convention Implementation Act, PL 100-568, 102 Stat. 2853), or works for which the copyright has expired (e.g., copyrights secured more than 75 years ago).
Obtaining Copyright Permission
Most other works are protected by copyright, even if they do not bear a copyright notice. (As of March 1, 1988, use of the copyright notice is optional, but recommended.) Copyright protection comes into being the moment the work is created in fixed form. Thus, it is up to the user to determine who owns the copyright and to request permission for use.
Under cl. 106 the copyright owner has the exclusive rights to do and to authorize any of the following:
- to reproduce the copyrighted work,
- to prepare derivative works based upon the copyrighted work,
- to distribute copies of the copyrighted work,
- to perform the copyrighted work publicly, and
- to display the copyrighted work publicly.
If you decide to use copyrighted material in your multimedia production, you are potentially depriving the copyright owner of exclusive rights.
Legal Uncertainties - Patrick Lynch, from the Yale University School of Medicine, in a recent article, states:
"If you are just using your project locally in your own classroom and have no plans to distribute your work, then few practical restrictions apply. But if you plan to distribute your project through a publisher, or even to distribute it informally without charge, you will need to make the same permission arrangements that you would make in publishing a book or professional paper. You should have a permission letter or a release form from each copyright holder in order to use his or her material in your multimedia work." (Lynch, p.24).
- Info For Content Providers
- Web developers and their areas of expertise
- iSyndicate.com - 900 sources - some free, some fee
- 1001 Free WebMaster Resources
- Request Premission to use content and deal with licensing fees
- License your content - online copyright clearinghouse
Extensive compilation of what all writers and publishers need to know.
First of all you want to ask yourself . . . Will you make any money, and do you care?
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- WHY YOU SHOULD GET REGISTERED
The Copyright Office Electronic Registration has accepted CDs and DVDs of articles (and photos, for that matter) for copyright registration.
- ~ The Copyright Office
- ~ ISBN ISBN/SAN Application
- ~ ISSN (International Standard Serial Number)
If you publish an e-mail newsletter or discussion list, it would be worth a few minutes of your time to register and receive your own ISSN. International Standard Serial Number (ISSN) is used to identify periodicals and newsletters, including those transmitted by e-mail. These numbers are used to create a world-wide directory that is used by libraries and others to find specific publications easily and quickly.
All you have to is go to:
United States -- http://lcweb.loc.gov/issn/ or
International -- http://www.issn.org
International and spend a few minutes filling out the simple form. You also e-mail them a sample copy of your publication and then you will receive your ISSN number in about three weeks.
~ Preassigned Control Number Program - A Library of Congress control number is a unique identification number that the Library of Congress assigns to the catalog record created for each book in its cataloged collections. Librarians use it to access the associated bibliographic record in the Library of Congress's database or other databases.
Preassigned Control Number Application