04 June 2008

9.0 Copyright Permissions

9.1 Question: My organization is developing a course on work habits to be used for internal purposes only for all of our employees. We are gathering articles from various academic and non-academic publications. Is it necessary to obtain permission to use these articles in our course materials?
Answer: You will need permission to use the articles in your course materials, even if the materials will only be distributed internally. You may be able to obtain permission from the authors or publishers of the articles, or from a photocopying copyright collective such as the Copyright Clearance Center (in the U.S.) or Access Copyright (in Canada). (2007-1)

9.2 Question: I am translating a book from French into English. Do I approach the publisher or author of the French book for permission to do so? And who owns the rights in the English translation?
Answer: Good assumption that you need to obtain permission to translate a book. Contact either the publisher or author – whoever is easier to reach. Then ask them who owns the rights in the French book (as this would be subject to a publishing agreement.) The translator of a work owns the copyright in the translation, in this case, the English version. (2007-4)

9.3 Question: My enterprise organizes an annual essay writing contest. We post the winning entries on our Web site and distribute a DVD with all entries. Do we need permission to do this?
Answer: Yes, copyright in an essay belongs to the author of that essay. This is true even in a contest situation. Your contest entry form could include permission from the author to you for any uses you need to make of the entry. For winning entries, you may want to go further and obtain permission to use the name of the author, and perhaps a photo of him. (2007-4)

9.4 Question: I have a slogan I would like to protect. How do I go about doing that?
Answer: Generally, slogans are not protected by copyright. The U.S. Copyright Office states that “titles, names, short phrases, and slogans; familiar symbols or designs; mere variations of typographic ornamentation, lettering, or coloring; mere listings of ingredients or contents” are not protected by copyright. If a slogan is associated with a product or service, it may be eligible for trademark protection. (2008-3)

9.5 Question: My company writes textbooks. We obtain permissions to use existing copyright-protected materials owned by others in our textbooks. Now we would like to license our content/textbooks to another party. Do we have the right to do that?
Answer: When you license content owned by others, you can ask for the permission to relicense that content to third parties. Or if you prefer not to do so (as it may cost you additional money), you may want to inform third parties that they may need to get permissions/licenses prior to reproducing your content/textbooks. (2008-3)

9.6 Question: My organization has purchased a journal article from a document supplier. May I send this article to a third party for translation into another language or does this infringe the "further reproduction, electronic storage or electronic transmission" which was expressly prohibited in the invoice from the document supplier?
Answer: Unless you own the copyright in a work, whenever you translate a work or have someone translate it on your behalf, you need permission from the copyright owner of that work. Translation is a right of every copyright holder. It is an adaptation of a work that requires advance permission.

9.7 Question: Do you need permission to include a painting or sculpture which appears in the background of a photograph of a person?
Answer: Some countries have exceptions from copyright law for the incidental inclusion of copyright-protected works in other copyright protected material. Generally, for the exception to apply, the use must be incidental and not deliberate. For example, the exception may allow a journalist to photograph a person with a painting in the background. (2009-2)

9.8 Question: If I find an image on "Google Images" can I use it in a book published by a non-profit organization?
Answer: Google images answers this with the following: "The images identified by the Google Image Search service may be protected by copyrights. Although you can locate and access the images through our service, we cannot grant you any rights to use them for any purpose other than viewing them on the web. Accordingly, if you would like to use any images you have found through our service, we advise you to contact the site owner to obtain the requisite permissions." (2009-4)


DJames said...

My company produces and is introducing a new line of pens and each pen has a product name. We would like to use the names of famous writers as the product names. For instance, we might call one the 'Twain' or the 'Rand' and we would like to know if they are public domain or protected.

Copyrightlaws.com said...

The names of people are not protected by copyright. However you may need to be concerned about publicity rights -- benefitting from the name of a famous person.

Lynn said...

A charitable organization wants to publish a cookbook (in print format only) comprised of contributed recipes by its members. The proceeds from sales would cover production costs only, with the balance being donated to charity. Could this be considered "no motive of gain" for the purposes of fair dealing?

As for the contributed recipes, here are my questions/comments:
- The list of ingredients and the methods (bake at 350 degrees) would not be copyrighted, but the presentation could be. If it is a very generic recipe (generic ingredients and methods) for Chocolate Chip Cookies, then it probably isn't. If it is Martha Stewart's Crazy Chips of Chocolate Cookies, then it would be copyrighted and permission would/may have to be obtained.
- Since one recipe is not a "substantial amount" of the original source publication, would this also be covered under fair dealing, provided the recipe and its source is properly cited?
- Graphics used would either have to be from copyright-free sources or permission may have to be obtained. As for the recipes, since the graphic would not constitute a "substantial amount", would citing the source be sufficient and also covered under fair dealing?

Am I on the right track here? Has anyone else had any experience with this? All advice appreciated, thanks.

Copyrightlaws.com said...

Lynn, lots of issues to think about including the fact that a recipe may be a work in itself so reproducing the whole work is reproducing the recipe; ingredients etc are not protected by copyright though the words used to express them are, and recipes etc may be protected by a patent or trade secret so be careful not to use content that may be considered a secret; re the graphics...if you are using more than a substantial amount of a graphic, then you would have to obtain permission to determine if fair dealing applies.

Lynn said...

Hmmmm....so many ways of looking at it. Always good to get someone else's perspective, especially with your expertise! Thanks Lesley!

Erin said...

I'm not sure if this is the correct section for this question, but I would love to find a good resource on what constitutes due diligence. Are there any checklists or guidelines you can recommend?


Copyrightlaws.com said...

Hi Erin, you will find many checklist for copyright permissions by doing an online search. That should help you obtaining permissions. Not sure what you mean by due diligence. Either you obtain permission or you do not. You cannot use a work if you put forward your best efforts to obtain permission but fail to do so.

WordNymph said...

I'm planning to publish a book that would include brief (one or two sentence) quotations by celebrities, gathered from their autobiographies and assorted writings, newspaper and television interviews, etc., along with some quotations from film characters. It's not specifically a book of quotations but does include quotations at the start of each section/chapter. Do I have to contact each and every celebrity, media source, and film company for permission to use such quotations?
And, based on the life + 70 years rule, can I assume that quotations from anyone who died before 1939 are now in the public domain and therefore safe to use without obtaining copyright permission?

Copyrightlaws.com said...

Hi WordNymph, generally a quote may be used without obtaining permission. You may want to check the policy of your publisher. If you want to be 100% sure re copyright permissions you could get permission however many would not in a similar situation -- it is an issue of copyright risk analysis/management. As for who owns a quote, the person who first puts it in writing or records it, and not necessarily the person who is saying the words.

D said...

I have completed several original screenplays which I intend (hopefully) to market and sell. In each, a few passages from already-copyrighted books and scientific journals are used: meant to reinforce the validity of the characters' discourse.

I am now ready to pursue U.S. copyrights for my works but I am in need of advice on whether it is necessary at this time to acquire permissions for the aforementioned passages, or if this is something that normally would be handled at a later date by, say, the legal departments of production companies.

There is much advice for new screenwriters, ranging from, "Don't worry about it, because the potential buyer will solidify permissions," to "Contact every publisher for every piece of quoted material."

If the former is true, does this mean I can copyright my work while keeping the quoted material within it (giving it explicit credit)? If the latter is true, it seems unreasonable to attempt to acquire all the permissions considering that at the moment of the hypothetical sale, the buyer would have to reacquire said permissions as my work is unpublished at that point.

For example, one script is 112 pages long, in which there are a few short quotations along with three or four paragraphs from a scientific textbook, deliberately referenced by the characters. Some advise that I should instead create these blocks of dialogue rather than include copyrighted material, but I'm looking for authenticity in my script and wish to leave this accurate and perfectly expressed material in its place. Again, the story is entirely original: it's just that the characters refer to present-day scientists.

If you can provide some guidance, I would appreciate it greatly. Thank you. (And my apologies for the verbose post: simply unavoidable.)

Copyrightlaws.com said...

Hi D, each production company works differently. Some may require that you warranty that all permissions all cleared whereas others will work with you to clear permissions. Small uses of works such as quotes very much depend on the circumstances -- there is much written about fair use which you may want to read.

BCTF_IS said...

Question: My organization circulates an in-house newsletter each month. For the next edition, we want to include about half of a short poem whose author died in 1980. The version of the poem that the newsletter creators want to use was pulled off the internet. I believe the poem was published in a book in the 1970s, but none of the book's editions are currently in print. Do we need to get permission to use this poem in our newsletter? And if so, where do we begin?

Copyrightlaws.com said...

Hi BCTF - contact one of the copyright collectives, in Canada, www.accesscopyright.ca, and in the US, www.copyright.com. They may be able to provide you with the necessary rights. Otherwise, locate the author, his heirs, or publisher, to see who has the rights in the poem.

certgirl said...

I work in an Ontario public school board department. We have scanned books for students, with permission, and placed them on a server, where the school owns the physical copy of the book. How many copies of this digitized book can we have? Only as many as physical books that school has or is there a clause for education, that says the number of digitized online books is unlimited?

Copyrightlaws.com said...

Hi Certgirl, you say that you have permission to scan the books. Your permission to do so should also include permission concerning the number of "copies" of digital versions. If not, return to the copyright owner and ask for permission for the uses you need.

skyle said...

I am a Canadian translator and translate documents authored by others. In the US it seems clear that a translator is an author of a "derivative work" and owns a copyright to the translation which is independent of the copyright to the original work. Do you know what the situation is in Canada? I see the Canadian Copyright Act grants the original author the copyright in the original work and the sole right to authorize its translation, but does the translator, being the author of the translation, own the copyright to the translation?

Copyrightlaws.com said...

In Canada, a translation is protected by copyright and the translator is the owner of this new work. However, you do need permission from the owner of the original work (if it's still in the public domain) prior to translating it.

Shelby said...

My organization has produced a paper product using copyrighted materials for which we have obtained permission from the copyright owners. The product was a deliverable on a contract for another organization who intends on publishing it on their website.

Do the new owners of the product need to apply again to the copyright owners for the use of their embedded materials?

Copyrightlaws.com said...

Hi Shelby, it really depends on what permissions were obtained in the first instance, and who owns the product. Look at your original agreement to determine this. If it does not address this issue, you will need to obtain permission for any additional uses/changes to the product.

Mona said...

My organization's foundation wants to use a short musical clip from a popular song in a video that they are posting on You Tube. Do they need permission or is there a certain amount that is permissible to use such as less than 30 seconds of the entire recording?