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Tuesday, 10 January 2017

Copyrights and Copy-wrongs



First things first, a quick post to summarise a few basics on copyright - with comments relevant to hobbies and fibre crafts

It's on the internet so I can use it
The fact that something is on the internet doesn’t mean that it’s not protected by copyright or that you can use it as you wish.  Material on the net is protected the same as any other format. This includes source images used to create designs. Just because you can found a fabulous photo online doesn't mean you can use it. Pinterest is a prime example of how charts that breach copyright are circulated.

We can use it – it doesn’t have a copyright notice on it
While it is recommended copyright owners should put copyright notices on their material, it is not compulsory, and it doesn’t affect whether or not something is protected. Those who share charts often remove the copyright notice thinking that makes it all OK - it doesn't.

It's for my personal use
Copyright still applies if you want to make a design for you own use only. 

It’s all right we’re attributing the creator
If you’re using copyright material, you do generally have to attribute the person or people who created the material.  However, you still need permission to use the material even if you do this.

We only need to worry about copyright if we’re charging money
There is nogeneral rule to the effect that you don’t have to worry about copyright if you’re not charging people for the material you are using. You cannot take a photo and make a design from it and then give it away as a 'freebie'.

The copyright owner should see this as good promotion
Whether or not a copyright owner sees your use of their material as good promotion is their decision and you can never be sure they’ll see the situation as you do. Many copyright owners make their living from the licence fees they charge, and they will often want to know beforehand how you want to use the material.

It’s OK – I’m using less than x%
There is no general rule that you can use less than x% without permission. If you’re using any ‘substantial’ part of a copyright owner’s material – whether you’ve made changes to it or not – you’ll have to deal with the copyright issue. In the context, a ‘substantial’ part is any part that is important, distinctive or essential. It doesn’t have to be a large part to be ‘substantial’ in a copyright sense.

It’s all right – I’ve changed it
First, there isno general rule to the effect that it’s OK to use copyright material if you change it by x%. Second, there is no general rule to the effect that you can use copyright material if you a specified number of changes. If you’re using any part that is important, distinctive or essential, you have to deal with copyright issues.

It’s OK – we paid for it
Buying a chart or magazine does not transfer the copyright to you. You may resell these items but you cannot create more copies for circulation than originally existed without permission from the copyright holder. Magazines and books can be broken apart and sold as individual designs or pages.

No one will ever find out
Copyright owners have six years to take action for an infringement – that’s a long time for information to come to light. Copying someone else's work is theft so you have to ask yourself if you can cope with your nagging conscience.

It's OK - It's a big company and they can afford it!
This might seem like a great justification for that chart with a Disney character, Hello Kitty, a football club logo etc, but remember that it's often small businesses that buy the licenses to legitimately produce these charts and you're hurting them, the distributors and the shops that you love to visit!

Disclaimer: I'm not a lawyer and these rules are only general guidelines, if in doubt contact the copyright holder for further information.

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