In addition, qualitative comments suggested that some mock jurors resisted the jury instructions designed to compensate plaintiffs for the missing feature and instead assessed damages to punish the defendant. Patents and crowdfunding both attempt to foster early stage innovations. In theory, patents incentivize the creation of inventions and, in turn, attract investment and remove coordination barriers to facilitate commercialization. Crowdfunding allows multiple individuals to make small contributions to finance start-up ventures.
This study explores the interaction between these two innovation tools by examining 9, Kickstarter campaigns in patent-eligible categories to determine whether patented, or patent-pending, projects are more likely to reach their funding goal and in turn achieve actual, on-time delivery when compared to non-patented projects. The study finds, perhaps surprisingly, that patented projects are not more likely to obtain funding compared to non-patented ones.
However, patent-pending projects are more successful in getting funded. This preference, for patent-pending projects but not patented ones, was confirmed through a series of laboratory experiments on Amazon Mechanical Turk MTurk. Delivery for those funded patented projects is less likely and delayed substantially longer than their non-patented counterparts.
Patent-pending projects exhibited a higher delivery rate, with their delays falling in between patented and no patent projects. The results suggest timing is important. That is, patents are an important signal to crowdfunding contributors, but only when the patent, and thus project, is fresh and truly in its early stages of development, evidenced by the success of patent-pending, but not yet issued, projects. These results provide insights for both what makes a successful crowdfunding campaign and whether patents help attract funding and assist in commercialization in the crowdfunding context.
Intellectual Property Law | School of Law
Artificial intelligence A. This Article adds to the early discussion of A. I-screening capabilities to identify A. This first proposal would serve as a threshold search tool to detect and identify patent applications utilizing A. The technological foundation of this proposal is to provide A. The technological foundation of this proposal is to continue to provide patent prosecution history data, but also provide machine learning training capabilities. This Article closes by assessing the two proposals based on access, fairness, and transparency policy considerations.
There is widespread belief that the Patent Office issues too many bad patents that impose significant harms on society. At first glance, the solution to the patent quality crisis seems straightforward: give patent examiners more time to review applications so they grant patents only to those inventions that deserve them. Yet the answer to the harms of invalid patents may not be that easy. He supported his thesis with a cost-benefit calculation in which he concluded that the costs of giving examiners more time outweighs the benefits of doing so.
Given the import of the rational ignorance concept to the debate on how best to address bad patents, the time is ripe to revisit this discussion. This Article seeks to conduct a similar cost-benefit analysis to the one that Lemley attempted nearly fifteen years ago. In doing so, we employ new and rich sources of data along with sophisticated empirical techniques to form novel, empirically driven estimates of the relationships that Lemley was forced, given the dearth of empirical evidence at his time, to assume in his own analysis.
Armed with these new estimates, this Article demonstrates that the savings in future litigation and prosecution expenses associated with giving examiners additional time per application more than outweigh the costs of increasing examiner time allocations. Thus, we conclude the opposite of Lemley: society would be better off investing more resources in the Agency to improve patent quality than relying upon ex-post litigation to weed out invalid patents. Inventors applying for U.
Some scholars—including both of us—have raised questions about whether too many patents are granted based on unproven results, but in this essay, we make a narrower point: Even if the law governing how early U. Survey evidence shows that many scientific researchers do look to the patent literature for technical information, but they are unlikely to be familiar with the verb tense rule that distinguishes predicted results from actual data.
And there is evidence that scientists are misled: of randomly selected U. Causing further confusion, the subtlety of prophetic examples may be literally lost in translation for some foreign patent applications. But nothing in U. To support our argument that the benefits for patentees from prophetic examples can be obtained through less misleading methods of constructive reduction to practice, we interviewed U.
In this essay, we describe the results of these interviews and recommend changing patent prosecution guidelines at the U. The patent system features a centralized structure almost from end to end. The United States Patent and Trademark Office PTO possesses power to examine inventions, publish patents, and increasingly manage post-examination proceedings.
The centralized nature of the patent system leads to well-known inefficiencies, including production problems, low quality patents, and information inefficiencies. This Paper considers an alternative, decentralized, patent system. Harnessing new developments in database technology, I propose that inventors would submit patent applications to a shared patent record instead of to the PTO. After a grace period, in which inventions would remain secret, the record would open to the public and the patent examination process would ensue.
Following the examination, granted patents would be published to the record. During the examination process and throughout the lifetime of the patent, industry and state actors would be able to dynamically update the record. For example, third parties would be able to submit prior art, scientists — to weigh in on obviousness, patentees — to offer licenses, and courts — to list decisions and outstanding cases that pertain to the patent.
A decentralized patent model fosters a participatory and dynamic patent record and promises to transform the record into a central tool in the innovation economy. This strategy would yield several key benefits. First, it would boost the quality of patent examination and improve productivity, by allowing knowledgeable parties to shoulder some of the tasks that examiners now perform alone. Second, it would spur innovation by advancing information on new inventions, and reduce waste by preventing a race for patents that have already been filed.
Finally, decentralization would facilitate patent licensing, thus driving the adoption of new inventions in the market. Improved licensing forecasts would also produce a dynamic effect: increasing the potential reward of patents ex post, thus boosting the incentive to invent ex ante. Non-obviousness, codified in 35 U. John Deere , the foundational Supreme Court decision interpreting this statutory provision. In this Article, I argue that the primary-secondary heuristic that the Court set forth in Graham —and which it borrowed from a law review article that worked off some assumptions that are outdated if they were ever correct—has led to conceptual errors, and should be rejected in favor of a different framework.
Thus, after abandoning the primary-secondary framework, courts should instead classify evidence proffered on the question of obviousness into ex ante and ex post categories. I explain that, in contradistinction to the dubious guidance of Graham , the proposed approach fully accounts for the crucial role that the Patent Act attaches to the filing date in determinations of patentability. Assessing the impact of patent litigations on the venture capital financing of young firms. Existing literature on entrepreneurship established that the intellectual property is crucial for young firms and that patents serve as efficient signals to the prospective investors Hsu and Ziedonis, Intellectual property rights, along with other rights, bestow the owner with right to enforce in the event of infringement and litigations are manifestations of this right.
It is interesting to know if patent litigations drive away the investors or if VCs look beyond litigation to fund the young firms involved in litigations. All these important questions are unanswered. Using patent litigation data provided by USPTO and Venture capitalist investment data from VentureXpert, we would like to test various hypothesis related to the impact of litigation characteristics on probability of raising VC funding and quality of funding raised. Patent litigation data is to be matched to investee firm names in venture capital investment data collected from VentureXpert and patent assignee databases.
The current empirical challenge is to collect the patent numbers that are litigated under each case filed. The quality of investment is tested using amount invested in the rounds after litigation, number of rounds raised and number of investors in each round. Finding from this project will have valuable implications for management executives in young firms and for policy makers. Litigation process involves a series of decisions. Litigations are costlier for young firms than for established firms. Hence, the related decisions have far greater implications on firm growth and survival.
There is little empirical literature to guide these decisions and young firms often lack in-house legal expertise. The current project is an attempt to guide the young firms in making patent related decisions. This paper exams the use of patent licensing to promote price discrimination. The paper shows the ongoing incentives to use patent licenses to achieve product differentiation and price discrimination. The paper then explores the historical and current legal regime regarding patent exhaustion. The paper concludes by discussing how patent owners may attempt price discrimination under the current patent exhaustion case law, as well as the costs and benefits of such attempts.
Prior research on USPTO examiner incentives suggests that first-action allowance rates increase with seniority and experience, resulting in lower patent quality. However, we identify an examiner learning mechanism that accounts for this empirical fact. Our analysis suggests that the policy prescriptions in the literature regarding modifying time allocations should be reconsidered. In particular, rather than re-configuring time allocations for every examination promotion level, researchers and stakeholders should focus on the variation in outcomes between junior and senior examiners.
Further, the examiner learning mechanism studied in this paper also reduces patent grant delay, and therefore likely benefits innovators and firms. Patent and Trademark Office. USPTO Economic Working Papers are preliminary research being shared in a timely manner with the public in order to stimulate discussion, scholarly debate, and critical comment. Commentators widely agree that the Patent Office often errs, granting patents that do not meet the statutory criteria and should not have issued. Concern about Patent Office errors is behind many recent debates in patent law, including those over the presumption of validity for issued patents, new administrative procedures to cancel issued patents that fail the statutory criteria, and the proper of amount of resources to expend on initial patent examination.
Largely overlooked, however, is that Patent Office errors are not a unitary category. This Article identifies four situations in which the Patent Office issues a patent that fails the statutory criteria and is invalid. First, mistaken errors are when the Patent Office issues the patent despite having access to all of the relevant information, such as when the invalidating prior art was before the examiner but the examiner did not fully appreciate its significance.
Second, rational errors are when the Patent Office could have accessed the relevant information with sufficient time and effort but did not, such as when the invalidating prior art is a patent not found by the examiner. Third, inevitable errors are when the relevant information is not amenable to discovery given the design of patent examination, such as invalidating sales or public uses.
The Article evaluates which types of errors litigation and administrative patent cancellation are and are not well-designed to address, as well as which types of errors are most prevalent. Recognizing the different types of Patent Office errors sheds light on current debates over how to address erroneously granted patents.
Can patent holders bring infringement claims for monetary damages against state universities? The Patent Remedy Clarification Act of indicated that the answer to that question should be yes. Seven years later, however, the Supreme Court rejected that argument, holding that the Patent Clause of the Constitution did not empower Congress to abrogate state sovereign immunity protected by the 11th Amendment. Arguments not yet considered by the courts, however, provide alternative grounds for rejecting state immunity in patent cases.
Furthermore, in rejecting Patent Clause authority to abrogate state immunity, courts also ignored an alternative argument based upon the foreign affairs powers of the national government. International treaties provide a framework for patent protection, and U. Some patent applicants abandon their applications after publication without ever receiving a patent.
The conventional wisdom is that an abandoned patent application is deficient in some way and consequently worthless. This Article empirically studies abandoned patent applications, finding they are more valuable on average than issued patents across a number of dimensions. For example, abandoned applications are more likely to be used as prior art by the USPTO when rejecting claims of others.
In Europe, on the other hand, Fair Use is a set of specifically limited restrictions on the rights granted to copyright holders. The effect, in both cases, is largely the same: Copyrighted material can be used for the purposes of commentary, criticism, or parody. Copyright law in English-speaking countries tends to be based on a different philosophical and legal framework than copyright law in Continental Europe.
Anglo-American culture has a stronger emphasis on the economic rights of creators, while Europe upholds their moral rights. Generally speaking, the day-to-day rules of dealing with copyright issues are the same: Do not use content without permission. This section provides a broad overview of the Berne Convention Implementation Act of and its implications for US copyright. In most member countries, it provides automatic copyright protection for various types of works for the lifetime of the creator, plus an additional 50 years.
As of February , cooperating countries and states, known as Contracting States, have adopted the Berne Convention. Everyone who creates copyrighted work is protected in all countries that have ratified the Convention. This means that someone who creates a work in one country will get the same protection in all Contracting States. Prior to , the US was not part of the Berne Union, and its copyright laws were very different. All US works had to have a copyright notice or they would be available for copying by anyone. This led to copies of books being made and sold in the US, and accusations of lax control and scant regard for intellectual property followed.
Pressure mounted on the US through the 20th Century, until it finally adapted its laws and joined the Berne Union.
Parts of the Berne Convention directly conflicted with pre-existing copyright law in the US. In its Berne Convention Implementation Act of , the US was forced to make significant changes to its laws to modernize its approach and allow a compatible set of laws with the Convention. Congress tried to retain what it could of its pre-existing copyright laws, while adopting the same standards followed in the rest of the developed world. In adopting these three principles, Congress had to strike out some of its old laws and flex some of the others to fit. To be compliant with the second principle in the Berne Convention, Congress had to remove the requirement for a formal copyright notice for all works published after March 1, , which was the date the Act came into being.
But there are some complications to this. The US changed some of the wording within the Convention, including the definition of the US as a Country of Origin, and the implications arising from that. For example, Congress decided that copyright could not be enforced in a court of law without being formally registered with the Copyright Office first, as a way to encourage copyright notices to be included as they had before. There were also some other small changes in the Implementation Act. The US explicitly included architectural drawings as copyrighted items, for example, where this protection did not exist in the original wording of the Convention.
The technicalities and amendments in the Berne Convention Implementation Act of are lengthy and legally complex. However, there are some basic things you need to know about US copyright. The Berne Convention offers automatic copyright protection in countries and states. In the US, there are some cases where the Berne Convention does not apply, or may be applied differently to other member states and countries. But many countries have separate agreements outside of the convention, and different rules apply. It has been ratified in 78 countries or states, and governs sound recordings.
Initially, it was created to prevent the piracy of music on audio cassette. It was ratified by 37 countries and states, and came into effect in The Universal Copyright Convention was adopted in Geneva in In , it was revised in Paris. This was an important convention when it was originally conceived. They perceived it as prioritizing the rights of developed nations, while the Universal Copyright Convention covers many undeveloped countries, plus the Soviet Union from onward. This treaty was adopted in Geneva, in , and ratified by 96 members of the World Intellectual Property Organisation.
It was designed to protect the performers and producers of phonographic recordings. It was specifically intended to control cross-border intellectual property rights, and applies to all members of the World Trade Organization. As such, it has rendered many older treaties obsolete. TRIPS has wide-reaching implications for copyright in broadcasting, design, trademarks, patents, and biological classifications.
It sets out the methods by which disputes can be raised and investigated. Adopted in , the Beijing Treaty on Audiovisual Performances sets out acceptable use of audiovisual performances under copyright law, including the rights of participating performers. It has not yet entered into force, as it has not been ratified by the minimum 30 states and countries.
It was adopted in , and bypasses copyright in the production of accessible books and materials, ensuring that the visually impaired can access them more readily. This is a new treaty, having been ratified relatively recently by the required minimum 20 states and countries. It is effective as of September 30, Writing under a pseudonym is not an uncommon practice.
Pseudonyms have been used throughout history by various people: writers, actors, monarchs, and even popes, either to conform to social norms of the time or to conceal their true identity. In the case of writers specifically, it was pretty common for women authors to write under male names to increase their chances of getting published back when writing was considered to be a male profession. Nowadays, many authors continue to use pseudonyms for various reasons.
When it comes to writing under a pseudonym, you have to consider many factors, one of them being copyright. The short answer to that question is yes. However, your decision on including your real name will affect the duration of the copyright term. If you choose to publish your work under a pseudonym without disclosing your real name, the copyright term lasts 95 years from the date of publication or years from the date of creation, whichever is shorter; as outlined in The Copyright Office Fact Sheet FL PDF.
The Copyright Office considers a work to be pseudonymous as long as the author is identified on the copies or phonorecords of the work by a fictitious name.
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They offer several ways to register pseudonymous works. You can provide only your pen name and state that it is a pseudonym or you can leave the author space blank entirely. You will also have to provide a non-returnable copy of your work along with the corresponding fee. The application can be filed electronically or you can submit all the required documents through the regular mail. Finally, bear in mind that a pseudonym will not protect you from any legal action that might occur as a result of your writing. Your pen name is not a legal entity and the final responsibility for your work always rests on you.
Copyright laws differ from country to country. There is no unified law that would protect your written work internationally PDF. As such, the copyright protection in a particular country depends on the laws of the country itself. There is a silver lining, though.
Many countries offer protection to foreign works under certain conditions which are greatly simplified by multiple international copyright treaties and conventions. Before making the final decision whether or not to use a pseudonym, bear in mind that you cannot copyright a pseudonym itself just as you cannot copyright any other name. You can, however, be entitled to trademark your pseudonym PDF if it becomes identified with you or the books and other works authored under it. Considering copyright issues can be a very gray area, when dealing with anything copyright related, pseudonyms included, you are strongly advised to seek legal counsel.
Copyright protects intellectual property from being copied by an unauthorized person or business. Ideas cannot be protected by copyright, because the law says that an idea does not involve a minimum amount of artistic expression. So it makes sense that a painting can be copyrighted, and so can a piece of music.
But words and phrases cannot be copyrighted. Pseudonyms, titles for example, names of books or movies , business names, ad slogans, and lists also cannot be copyrighted. For example, if you come up with a new hot sauce recipe, the preparation instructions may be eligible for copyright protection; they are considered a form of literary expression. However, the list of ingredients cannot be copyrighted.
The ingredients list is considered to have required little artistic effort. Trademarks are designed to protect both businesses and consumers, by ensuring that business concepts are not copied without authorization. This protects business investment, and it also prevents goods and services from being counterfeited or copied, potentially misleading the consumers they are marketed to.
Even if a name, word, phrase, or image is not eligible for copyright protection, it can still be considered a trademark, and can be eligible for formal registration. Words and phrases can be declared trademarks even if they are not formally registered, too. In the US, trademark law is defined within the Lanham Act , a federal statute that grants exclusive legal right to use a trademark.
Sections 42 and 43 are key, because they set out the way infringed party can enforce ownership. Courts look at whether the use of a trademark was likely to cause confusion, and allow damages to be awarded for infringement. Patents are designed to protect inventions and innovations from being made, used, or sold by unauthorized companies or individuals. For example, Google provides its own US patent search covering the US and many other countries, with records dating from to the present day. In US law, useful articles are items that are designed for a functional purpose. For example, a dining chair, a car, or a light switch would likely fall into the category of useful articles.
Useful articles have a particular status, in that they are not protected by copyright. For example, a lightswitch may have a fancy surround. The functional part of the switch — the mechanics inside it — is a useful article, but the surround is a separate, copyrightable design. In order to be eligible for copyright protection, the functional element of the object must be separated from any distinct, creative element. Determining useful articles is a complex area of law. US courts often rely on the Denicola test to settle disputes around useful articles.
This test measures whether the artistic elements of an object are influenced by its underlying function. The closer art and function are conjoined, the more likely it is that the object is subject to copyright.
Conversely, if the function and artistic appearance of something can be separated, then those two elements are conceptually deemed to be separate. Trademarks are usually associated with names and logos, but there are a broad range of situations where a trademark can be assigned.
In addition, a trademark is designed to protect consumers, so that they know the goods and services they buy are genuine. When a business uses a particular name or image in association with its activities, it is granted a basic form of intellectual property protection. In order to increase that protection, the business must formally register a trademark. Trademarks must satisfy a number of requirements in order to be legally protectable.
Trademarks must represent either a product or a service and you must be able to provide clear proof of which one it is. You must define whether your trademark is classified as use-in-commerce meaning you already used it in sales outside of your state or intent-to-use meaning you have not yet used it for sales outside of your local area. The strength of a trademark depends on its uniqueness in the marketplace. If it too closely resembles a related service or product or has the potential for conflict in the future, you may find your application for registration denied.
Consider the following three areas of weakness:. If you answered yes to all three of these, then your trademark will be too weak for approval. There are typically five classifications of trademark types. The following list ranks these trademark categories from strongest to weakest:. Keep in mind that the lower on the list you go, the greater likelihood of your application being rejected. Descriptive and generic trademarks almost always get rejected. Businesses and product owners should always consider officially registering their trademark.
You can do so via mail or online. Include a drawing of your trademark. A standard character drawing protects the wording of your trademark and includes words, letters, and numbers. A special form drawing protects the design and stylization of your trademark and includes designs, special fonts, colors, and other formatting. It can take up to three months for the USPTO to make a decision on whether to approve or reject your application. If rejected, you can resubmit a new trademark proposal. Within the subsequent six months, you need to file a Statement of Use that provides proof that you are using your trademark for the purposes of commerce.
If you cannot do so within six months, file for an extension. Within a month or two of receiving your Statement of Use, the USPTO will review and send you a final notice of approval and registration of your trademark. Once you receive the NOA, you must then begin using the trademark or registration symbols to notify the public and, more important, the competition of the legal protection over your mark.
One more point worth noting here is usage. If you use your trademarked name in a manner other than which it was intended — and it catches on — you may lose rights to your trademark as it becomes too generic of a term. Every ten years after that, you will then need to file a joint Section 8 and 9 form. Trademarks registered within the United States are not protected in other countries, so a separate application will have to be filed for each country in which you seek trademark protection. Here are some of the more popular foreign trademark offices that business owners seek cross-registration with:.
While trademark protection and registration may seem like a simple consideration for business owners, there is actually a lot involved in the process of securing your rights over your professional property. So if you have a product or service worth protecting, get it registered ASAP. As with any other type of creative work, photographs are inherently protected by copyright law.
The second you take that photo — regardless of whether you decide to publish it or not — it is copyright protected. Stock photography websites like Shutterstock and iStock are a great resource for people looking to include high-quality photos within their own work. However, sites like these only offer access to photos once a payment is made in return for the licensing rights. There are free stock photography sites, too, though the quality and variety of work may not be on par on with paid sites, in turn leading people to other avenues to procure digital photography.
Why should this matter to a photographer? Consider the following scenarios:. For photographs published by another source, photographers need to make a determination regarding ownership of the work. Under work for hire agreements, photographers most likely give the employer rights to their work, so contracts should always be checked carefully before registering any copyright.
Publication, in the context of copyright law, is all about the actual distribution of the photos. According to copyright law, purchased, downloaded, or copied elsewhere, is enough to place them into the published category. Both published and unpublished photographs can be registered.
Just make sure each photo you register has a unique title associated with it.
Copyright Timeline: A History of Copyright in the United States
If you have photos that comprise a set — say, as part of a calendar or book — you can register the entire collection with a single application and fee, just as you would a single photograph. This applies to both published and unpublished sets of photography. For any collection you want to register, ensure the photographs meet the following criteria before submitting your application:.
Whether you shoot your photography digitally or on film, you can easily register your work with the Copyright Office. Once your photograph or collection of photographs is ready to submit, you can do so electronically using the eCO Registration System , or you can mail your application and copies of your work to the Library of Congress PDF.
Well, there are always exceptions to the rule. Typically, copyright is defined as the legal right to copy a work. When it comes to assigning ownership of that right to someone, it inherently belongs to the person who created it. But this is not the case for works made for hire. Works made for hire present an interesting complication to copyright law. Section of the Copyright Act of set out to define the ownership rules.
When one party commissions, employs, and pays for someone else to create a work, the ownership of the copyright ultimately depends on the relationship between both parties as well as the extent of control one party exacts over the other. Here is how that determination is made PDF :. If an employee created the work as part of their standard terms of employment, it is a work made for hire. If an employee or contractor gave the requester ownership of the work in writing for use in one of the following ways, it is then a work for hire. And so did the CCNV.
When the case arrived at the Court of Appeals, they ruled that this was not a case of work for hire. Reid was a contractor, but he had not created a work that fell under one of the pre-determined categories. Because of this, the Supreme Court relied on the Law of Agency principles to come up with their decision. See some of the questions they used. For writers, photographers, artists, developers, and other freelancing or contracting individuals, copyright law as it pertains to works for hire is an important matter to understand.
For works made for hire, however, copyright lasts for years after the work was created or 95 years after it was published. While this may not present an issue for contractors, it might be an issue for employers who do not compensate or cover their contractors accordingly. But as someone involved in the development of a dramatic work, do you know which parts of it are actually protected? As someone interested in reproducing a theatrical production, do you know what to do in order to organize your own production of the work? A dramatic work is something created for the sake of performance.
Theatrical and operatic plays, movie and television screenplays, and radio scripts are examples of dramatic works. Note that all of these must be fixed in a tangible medium. So a dance that is filmed is likely protected by copyright, but a spontaneous dance with no tangible record is not. Music is typically protected separately from a script or performance, and there are different rules as it pertains to copyright more on that below.
The answer to the ownership question should be a fairly straightforward one: the writer. However, there are a number of players to take into consideration with dramatic works:. You can find more information on the process of registering intellectual property in How to Get a Copyright, and What Registration Is. Fair Use see section More on Fair Use and Fair Dealing is not usually an argument one can make when attempting to copy or perform a dramatic work.
The main Open Content licenses will be discussed, along with how their permissions interact with conventional copyright law. There are a number of useful compilations of freely-available content which you may want to use on your website: images, sounds, music, video. This article is not primarily about Open Source or Open Content, so this is not the place to try to convince you that giving away at least some of your own content writing, images, music, video is a good idea. However — it can be a really great idea.
Allowing others to copy, remix, and adapt your work can give it a wider audience than you would otherwise be able to get. It provides value to the larger community. It can serve as advertising for other work you are producing which you do not give away for free. Some people — notably Richard Stallman — advocate the use of Open Licensing precisely because they are against copyright law.
Other people think that Open and Proprietary Closed licensing can coexist and enrich each other.
Frequently Asked Questions: IP Policies for Universities and Research Institutions
Copyright states that you have the right to grant anyone permission to use your work, and without your granting of that permission others cannot do so. Open Licensing provides that permission to others all at once, for everyone. You still own the copyright. This is one of the reasons you should think carefully about different types of Open Licensing, and understand the different types of licensing available.
The most common family of Open Content licenses is maintained by the Creative Commons organization. Creative Commons provides several different licenses that each specify a different set of permissions being granted and conditions under which the permissions are granted. The only restriction places on CC BY works is that anyone using the work must credit the original creator. Creative Commons drafts these licenses and makes them available for content creators in a very easy-to-use format. You simply select the license you wish to use, and provide a link to it.
They give you the exact words to use and even little icons. Additional information about Creative Commons may be found at their website. It is one of the earliest content-specific Open licenses in existence. The Open Content Project maintains a copy of the license text , but currently recommends against using it.
They suggest Creative Commons licensing. This is a license originally developed so that Open Source software released under the GNU General Public License could have documentation released under similar provisions. There is no reason that it cannot be applied to text of any sort; it is not limited to software documentation. It is possible, at least in the US, to give up all intellectual property rights over a work and release it into the Public Domain.
Possible, but not recommended. Be careful, though. Copyright law is complicated business.
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The successful licenses have been drafted by professionals, proofed by other professionals, revised, refined, and constantly tested. Creative Commons licenses have been upheld in court. The idea here is that you use an existing CC license, which restricts more freedoms than you intend to, and then provides an addendum that grants additional permissions. Note that the reverse does not work.
You cannot begin with a less restrictive license and then use the addendum to add additional restrictions. An example of this might be releasing a work under a Non-Commercial license, and then specifying the terms under which commercial use may be permitted. Many free works include specific requirements that you need to follow in order for your usage to be legal.
The most common restriction is that you have to attribute the work to the original creator. Be sure to do this. In this case, you are not permitted to use works licensed with a Non Commercial restriction. If you wish to use a work that has a Share Alike restriction, you are going to have to release your derivative work under the same license.
Be sure you are prepared to do so. The Creative Commons licenses are the most well-known and well-understood content licenses, and you would likely do well to use them. You have to balance your desire to control how your work is used with the value of giving up that control. Only you can decide where you fall on that spectrum. Open Content licenses allow content creators to release their work for free, while retaining certain rights and placing specific restrictions on their use.
The most popular licenses for this are the Creative Commons licenses. If you are using work released under such a license, or thinking about releasing your own work, be sure you understand the terms of the license. No discussion of copyright would be complete without a quick foray into the subject of the public domain.
In other words, a public domain work is one that is freely available for use by the public and does not have an owner. While we do know that the first copyright laws did not include clauses for public domain assignment, the British and French eventually found a need to label such works in the 18th and 19th centuries. The only problem with this quote is that it does not address the full scope of how a work may end up unprotected. At the time this was spoken, it made sense that expiration would be its sole association, but times have changed as has our need to more clearly define the laws that govern copyright.
There are typically four different ways in which a creative work may end up in the public domain. As with everything else surrounding copyright protection or lack thereof , there are some gray areas to be aware of. As with everything copyright related, you should seek professional legal counsel if you have any questions.
That is especially true if the issue is very important to you or potentially costly. If this had been prior to , all you would have to do was skip putting a copyright notice on your work. The Berne Convention changed all that, however, so now any work created is automatically protected. If you want to relinquish all rights to your work and notify others that your work is free for use, here is what you need to do:.
If instead you want to grant free access to your work, but still want to retain ownership, you can explore the option of an Open License instead. And this is a major problem. In order to work within the legal parameters of copyright law, bloggers must first understand the basics. Here is a high-level overview to get you up to speed:. If someone stands to gain anything monetarily from using the work, that will almost always be a violation of copyright law.
Consider the following:. This criterion for determining the nature of the use of copyrighted material can get a bit murky, so tread lightly; consulting professional legal advice is a good idea. Here are some important points to keep in mind:. What if you only quoted a single sentence, but the author still considers any copying of their words infringement?
As a creative professional, you owe it to other creative individuals to treat their work with respect. Consider this the Golden Rule of blogging: what would you do or how would you feel if you discovered that someone ripped off your work — even in the most minor of ways — and profited from it? Bloggers are no different than any other writer or content creator, which means they deserve the same amount of protection under the law.
WordPress is the most popular blogging platform. These plugins will help you manage your blog. If you use another CMS, you may be able to find similar plugins or extensions. Video game copyright can be a confusing matter for developers. It has a tendency to stir up questions you might not otherwise consider until something happens that forces you to think about them. For instance:. Why let all that hard work go to waste only to leave your game unprotected? Or, worse, invest all that work into something, only to have it taken down because someone else believes you violated their copyright?
The moment you create your video game — whether published or not — it is copyright protected. For developers in search of legal protection over all aspects of the game, there are a number of laws in place to provide you with nearly full coverage:. Copyright law and infringement happen to be a particularly sticky area when it comes to video games.
And, to complicate matters further, there are reasons why developers may choose not to take action against infringers. But to be on the safe side, it would be in your best interest to formally register and place a notice on any and all games you make. Copyright infringement basically means that someone has copied your original content in some way, shape, or form.
Fair Use is, in essence, the exception to copyright law. It says that if someone has copied a work for the purposes of parody, criticism, or commentary, then it is acceptable. This is why copyright law can become especially tricky for video games. Technically, a fan creation is a derivative work of another video game, which means developers of fan creations need to be very careful. Game developers own the copyright to derivatives, sequels, and all creative content within their game including characters, setting, and the storyline , which could potentially leave fan creations open to copyright infringement lawsuits if they too closely follow the original.
For example, in a massively multiplayer online role-playing game MMORPG like World of Warcraft, a mod might add a special graphical display of healing. Because mod developers are usually making modifications to games they do not hold the copyright to, they can find themselves in those murky waters between copyright infringement and Fair Use.
One is where another developer steals your creative content for their own video game. The other is when someone shares your video game online without permission to do so — and this is where DMCA comes into play. More on that below. Well, there are a number of reasons why developers have chosen not to pursue any legal recourse against offenders:. The argument as to whether fan creations, add-ons, and mods are copyright infringing works will be something you have to decide on your own since every case is unique.
Game mods and fan creations are a fairly accepted part of the gaming industry these days, so it can be difficult to make that choice to take action against them — especially when you consider what they can do for your own game in terms of finance, reputation, and so on. And this is why some developers choose to ignore copyright infringement since these mods can often improve upon their intellectual property. When it comes to fan creations, some developers choose to look the other way as well. Of course, there is always going to be the case of the rogue developer who takes it too far and totally rips off a storyline from another game or creates a mod that helps players cheat.
The internet is a goldmine of information and near-limitless access to content. You might also want to reproduce video or written works that were produced many decades ago. The Digital Millenium Copyright Act compels web hosting companies to remove the content immediately, and ask questions later. Remember: the DMCA will apply to you if your website is hosted in the US, so this law has international repercussions. If you are beyond the reach of the DMCA, copyright theft could land you with a court summons, a fine, or a Google penalty, depending on what you use, and how you share it.
Some of the differences between different countries are nuanced, and difficult to summarize, so the following guides and links apply mainly to the US. Copyright for a work is not internationally applicable, and rules differ from country to country. Treaties and conventions have been adopted between countries to try to smooth out the differences and create a consistent system. That will help to determine its status, and your rights to use it. Additionally, knowing the date of publication will give you a clue as to whether its copyright is still valid, or whether it has lapsed, which would place the work in the public domain.
The issue of registration is also a crucial point. But under US law, registration is essential if copyright is infringed and the issue goes to court. In the US, copyright status differs according to creation date, renewal date, and whether the item was formally registered. Unregistered works also come under different laws, depending on whether they were created by individuals or companies. For almost a century, the US Copyright Office kept detailed records about the copyright status of thousands of works.
These records exist on a mixture of formats, including paper catalogs, microfiche, and online records. The US Copyright Office retains information on all registered works from until the present day, and its website provides more information on accessing different types of records. Some are available online, whereas paper and microfiche catalogs known as Catalog of Copyright Entries are also provided at selected libraries. Some of these older records are currently being digitized.
But there are a few important reasons why old records — including the Catalog of Copyright Entries — cannot be completely relied upon:. Depending on the level of detail you need, you may have to pay a fee to retrieve relevant documents. Many countries are signed up to international copyright treaties. The Berne Convention is the most important, since it supersedes many other conventions, and has the widest membership.
The World Intellectual Property Organization Copyright Treaty covers important copyright conventions relating to digital publication. Our Beyond Berne section provides information about some other important copyright treaties. Additionally, some countries have their own national copyright office. As the internet has evolved, concepts like copyright, intellectual property, and Fair Use have been constantly tested and revised.
Fast internet connection speeds have made it easier for everybody to share media, and the Digital Millenium Copyright Act was devised to try to deal with the resulting intellectual property theft. The humble tape recorder and photocopier also introduced the possibility of copyright violation on a large scale. Many important court cases redefined the concept of intellectual property in a digital context, or served as important test cases for future discussion of copyright on the web. In the case, the court ruled that individuals should be able to make copies of TV shows for personal use.
The Felten v RIAA case centres on the right of a private individual to make copies of music for their own use. Edward Felten, a professor at Princeton, lectures on ways to get around copy protection. Professor Felten appears to have withdrawn his paper. The Motion Picture Association of America sued In , Turner Broadcasting System was sued by a group of studios, TV companies, and cable networks.
Turner Broadcasting System had developed a VCR device that was capable of cutting advertisements out of recordings, as well as the functionality to duplicate recordings to other compatible recording devices. This case was a very early example of the entertainment industry joining forces to quash technology that could change the way its content was used. The company behind ReplayTV went out of business in , and the company that purchased the rights to the device removed the controversial features.
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BNETD ran a gaming server that allowed players of a game produced by Blizzard to play against each other online. Blizzard won the case, but the ruling has been subject to some criticism because it could theoretically limit consumer choice. Blizzard claimed it as a victory against piracy. Johansen claimed that he wrote the front-end for his software, DeCSS, but another developer was responsible for the code that decoded the DVD video. In , the Recording Industry Association of America RIAA brought a case against telecommunication provider Verizon, arguing that it should identify users that were suspected of illegally downloading mp3 files after receiving a subpoena.
The court ruled that the DMCA does not allow a copyright owner to issue a subpoena to obtain personal information. The case focused on Advanced eBook Processor, an application that allowed users to circumvent copy protection techniques in eBook creation software particularly software owned by Adobe.
ElcomSoft, and its employee Dmitry Sklyarov, were found not guilty. Photographer Kelly brought this case against Arriba Soft Corp, the company behind the Ditto search engine. The court ruled that search engines could use thumbnails under Fair Use. When file sharing was new to the internet, the Recording Industry Association of America RIAA sued individuals and peer-to-peer networks, with the aim of stamping it out.
Within 5 years, the number of people it had sued was said to be in the tens of thousands. The RIAA announced in that it would suspend its program of litigation, having allegedly spent millions of dollars on lawsuits, collecting damages amounting to a few hundred thousand. None of the lawsuits resulted in additional royalties being paid to the artists whose material was shared. In , it sought judgment that its products did not violate the DMCA, but it was not successful. It was prevented from making or distributing DVD copying software, and went out of business soon after.
In this case, the American Library Association sued the Federal Communications Commission after it planned to prevent certain TV shows or movies from being recorded on receiving equipment. This protection mechanism would have taken the form of a flag, sent at the beginning of a broadcast, which would have determined the license and usage rights. It planned to introduce this flag in , but the court ruled that the FCC did not have the authority to regulate devices that received signals, but did not send them.
Two rival makers of garage door opening equipment went to court in a DMCA case. Lexmark is a printer manufacturer. Lexmark brought a case against Static Control Components, a microchip manufacturer that was able to embed its own chips into recycled cartridges. Judges ruled that the code was functional, rather than a creative idea, and was therefore not subject to copyright protection. SCC successfully sued Lexmark for misrepresentation. The ramifications of the case were wide-reaching, and the case ran for 10 years. In this lawsuit, Diebold claimed that it held copyright for the contents of its own corporate emails, and took the Online Policy Group to court for publishing them.
Many of the email related to problems with its electronic voting equipment. The email had been stolen during a hack, and republished on various websites. Diebold was found to have misused the DMCA, and the judge found that the leak was in the public interest. Additionally, the court ruled that the emails were not shared for commercial purposes, and therefore came under Fair Use. Grokster had won two previous hearings, when judges decided it could not be held accountable for the actions of peer-to-peer software users. In this case, judges unanimously decided that the software was clearly designed to infringe copyright.
The MediaMax software used as a copy protection tool was cited as a potential risk to information security. Each Sony CD covertly installed this software with no means to detect or remove it. In total, this software was present on around 22 million Sony CDs. Specifically, it related to game characters resembling superheroes in its City of Heroes game. Prior to the judgment, the judge pointed out that many characters had been created by Marvel employees or contractors. Marvel and NCSoft eventually reached a settlement. Perfect 10 is an adult-oriented publisher that claimed Amazon.
This case was brought in After appeals, Perfect 10 lost the case, and the images were determined to be published under Fair Use. In , Jeff Diehl was the editor of 10 Zen Monkeys, a blog that used an image that Crook said that he owned. However, the image that Crook objected to was not owned by him. The case was thrown out , and Crook was compelled to take a course in copyright law. This case was brought after Uri Geller, a TV personality and paranormalist, disputed the use of a video of his performance.
Sapient sued Geller for damages. Judgment was reached in ; the original video was re-licensed as non-commercial Creative Commons, along with a financial settlement. Many countries have had to rewrite their laws to cope with the rapid pace of change. Over the last 20 years, technology has sometimes evolved more quickly than legislation.
However, modern legislation like the DMCA offers good protection against intellectual property theft, and its effectiveness has been proven many times in court. And as we all become more in tune with digital content distribution and sharing, publishers are getting better at allowing their content to be shared in legal, compliant ways. This section provides concise answers to common copyright questions. Some of these issues are covered in more detail above.
A: It is the legal right granted to an author, which protects their intellectual property from being copied by another person without explicit permission to do so. A: Yes. Copyrights protect intellectual property like music, movies, novels, websites, etc. Patents protect inventions. Trademarks protect brand-related slogans, logos, and imagery. A: No. If a minor has created an original work, the copyright belongs to them. A: For newly registered works, copyright length is the life of the author plus 90 years.
See Length of Copyright for information about anonymous works and works created before Intellectual property is much like the physical property you own in that it can be sold, transferred, or willed to another individual. If you change your mind after transferring your copyrighted material, you can also terminate the transfer and take back ownership of all rights. The content text, images, audio, and video and the design are both covered by copyright.
Your business name and logo are not eligible for copyright either. They are instead protected by trademark law. A: If your country of origin has a copyright agreement with the United States or is a Berne Convention member country, then protection for your website does exist within the US. It is automatic when you create a work. See Copyright Registration for more details. A: Some people simply want a legal certificate on public record. The most common reason many people register their websites is, because without it, they cannot take any legal action against someone who has infringed upon their copyright.
You may also use one of these alternative copyright registration routes. You can either complete the online registration — which gives you a better means for tracking your application and is also cheaper — or you can mail in a paper application. A: Yes, there are three fees: one for the completed application, one nonrefundable for filing, and one nonrefundable for a deposit. There are also fees associated with looking up copyright registrant information, transferring copyrights, reconsideration claims, and more. Always check with the federal website before submitting any applications or requests.
However, if you have made any extensive changes to your website whereby it becomes unrecognizable from the previously registered iteration, you will have to submit a new registration claim. Within three months of publishing your work and registering with the United States Copyright Office, two copies of the copyrighted material must be submitted to the Office for use in the Library of Congress. Copyright notices are not necessary, but are still frequently used on intellectual property, regardless of whether the work has been registered or not.
If this issue does occur, merge the text above on to a single line. You can update your copyright notice at any time. A: If your website — or any of the copyrighted content images, text, coding, etc within it — has been reproduced in any way without your permission, then you have a case for copyright infringement. Once there is a public record of your copyright registration, you will then be able to take legal action against the infringer. Fair Use is determined by context and intent, not by the length of an excerpt.
See Fair Use for more information. Make sure you are familiar with Fair Use before doing so. If ever in doubt, reach out to the copyright owner to request permission to use their work. Copyright is a huge and complex subject. And many issues will just have to be sorted out by courts. But this article should have given you a really good introduction to the subject.
If it made your brain hurt and want to run to a lawyer, good! Copyright is not easy. But most of the time you can protect yourself by simply being conservative. If it has an open license, make sure you abide by all its terms. In some cases, you can get a copyright holder to grant you permission to use it for free. The main thing is to be careful and do the right thing. And if you have any questions, ask a lawyer who specializes in copyright.
This article contains the best information we could find and provides a good overview of the material discussed. However, as with all legal matters, you should consult with an attorney who specializes in the area at hand. Compiled and edited by Frank Moraes. If you're in the market for a new web hosting provider, be sure to check out our user reviews , our A-Z hosting guide and our top three popular hosting picks Your email address will not be published. Thank you for this post.
Is it possible to have a PDF version of this long text to download. That way and I speak for myself, I could read, write notes and translate some expressions in my first language, wich is French. So I want to repost a story that someone has created, but they have deleted their account from the website and I can not find a way to get ahold of them. But I really want other people to read and enjoy the story.
Is there a way to post the story and give all the credit to the original author? This article is extremely helpful and answers all the art copyright questions I had! I appreciate you putting this out there. I read the whole page, the whole LONG one page! No one should assume any work is not copyrighted, but they do all of the time. Thank you for this incredible summary and resource!
It provided exactly what I wanted to know. I appreciate all of the work that went into creating this information page! I too would love to have a PDF version of this. May sound crazy, but I still love a physical paper reference for such things … or at the very least a downloadable version so I can read and review while offline and make my own notes and reminders in the margins.
Copyright is a topic with a lot of misconceptions and urban legends surrounding it. This makes it both simple and complicated to understand at the same time. Introduction: What Is Copyright? Copyright is the legal and exclusive right to copy, or permit to be copied, some specific work of art. If you own the copyright on something, someone else cannot make a copy of it without your permission. Copyright usually originates with the creator of a work, but can be sold, traded, or inherited by others. Why you should care If you run a website you may have to deal with copyright law and related issues from two different sides: as a producer and as a consumer.
This Article This article will walk you through the most important issues concerning copyright law and its practical applications to you as a webmaster. The History and Philosophy of Copyright This section provides a brief overview of the historical context and philosophical foundation of modern copyright law. But the original conception was quite a bit different. Freedom of Speech By the 18th century, and especially after the American Revolution, the conception of Free Speech had become a mostly accepted fact.
Intellectual Property and Ownership So the situation is that without copyright, but with Freedom of Speech, anyone would be able to copy anything they want, even if someone else had created it.