Tuesday, August 11, 2009

copyright infringement?

I read a blog this morning that contained several pictures that by themselves are probably fine. BUT the person who created them is intending to sell them on cafepress as merchandise.

This is where things get sticky.

Using song titles on anything for any reason, just fine and dandy as they are NOT subject to copyright. (nor are book titles, movie titles, etc- a wee note here: although titles are not copyright - cover images are.)

Using a logo that does not belong to you. NO!

Using song lyrics, excerpts from novels, lines from poems, quotes from movies, on something you intend to sell - NO!!

The tricky thing is, that with books there is a certain amount of 'fair use' - available. If you pull a line or two from killerbyte I will probably let it slide - (as long as it doesn't end up somewhere without being credited back to me! But heads up people - it's polite to ask! I rarely say no to polite people!)

"FAIR USE" DOES NOT APPLY TO SONGS OR POEMS. You must have permission from the copyright holder to use lyrics.

Which means dotting your I's and crossing your T's, and finding the right lawyer to ask about licensing the right to create derivative works.
If it's song lyrics you want to use, then here is a good place to start. ACE title search.

If it's poetry or a book, contact the agent, publisher, or even author. It says in the front of most books who owns the copyright.

Consider this a public service announcement.

Copyright law is long, involved, and tricky - it's always better to err on the side of caution and ASK for permission. Don't assume it's okay - and do not SELL anything that isn't ALL your own work - unless you have the legal permission you need.

This goes for book trailers too - I would love to be able to use a certain Bon Jovi song for my up-coming trailer. But because I didn't get onto it earlier (I probably don't have enough time now to get the permission - or not!)
I'll find something else. :-)

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