Friday, December 29, 2006

On Copy - Who Holds the Rights

The genesis of this piece is a recent discussion that came up from my work as the webmaster for the Ontario Artist Blacksmith Association. For those not familure. OABA is a chapter club of a larger organization - Artist Blacksmith Association of North America (ABANA). With a new editor just coming on board for their newsletter (the Iron Trillium), the topic of sharing content between the various chapter club newsletters came to the front. In the past, ABANA had a tradition of freely swapping newsletters and reprinting articles from them between the various individual chapters.

Now those of you who know me are aware that theft of my past written materials has been a MAJOR problem with me. Original writings I had created in conjunction with training programs I was hired to undertake were flat out stolen by other individuals - in clear violation of the contracts that had been signed. Needless to say, the repeated theft of my materials, and the subsequent loss of opportunities this represented (when others signed their own names to the texts and claimed the contents as their own) was a very bitter experience. So its fair to say I'm a LOT more sensitive to the whole area of ownership of 'intellectual property' than most. As a result I have done more research into Copyright than many other artists do.

There has been a revision of Law in the area of Copyrights over the last decade in particular. This largely from development of new technologies and the massive growth of the internet. In the 'old days' it was relatively cumbersome to copy existing writings. The invention of the photocopier, and the eventual drop in price that resulted in easy access to this machinery for direct duplication, changed all that. I'm of an age when I remember that access to the new Xerox machines was strictly controlled, and bulk copying of existing works was just not permitted by those who operated them. Before those days, any attempt to plagiarize someone else's work required tediously hand copying or use of a manual typewriter for duplication. The slowness of the methods limited someone's ability to copy anything wholesale.

But that was then - and this is now. The widespread use of computers has resulted in a trivial amount of effort being required to copy existing works. With a scanner, entire books can be transfered to electronic files, washed through text recognition software, and stored, duplicated, or altered. Anyone reading this could easily 'cut and paste' the content to their own computer, or hit a simple 'save as' button to create a copy. Change the authors name... In the case with my troubles with the Viking Trails Tourism Association, this exactly what was done (without even changing the spelling mistakes - if you can believe it!).

The important thing to remember is this:

The initial creator of any original work retains FULL RIGHTS and ownership of that work - unless specific WRITTEN permission is given to re-assign those rights to another.

This is the DEFAULT legal situation. You do not have to do anything else to enshrine your rights to your own work. This absolutely applies to ANYTHING ON THE WEB. A common misconception is that if someone 'publishes' something (written or image) on the internet that it has automatically become 'public domain'. This is NOT THE CASE.

If any of the readers are interested in learning more about the issues of Copyright, I would suggest you take a look at the excellent article written by Brad Templeton "10 Big Myths About Copyright Explained".
Available on line :

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I recall you being annoyed at your image being used without permission as well.


February 15 - May 15, 2012 : Supported by a Crafts Projects - Creation and Development Grant

COPYRIGHT NOTICE - All posted text and images @ Darrell Markewitz.
No duplication, in whole or in part, is permitted without the author's expressed written permission.
For a detailed copyright statement : go HERE