21 May 2009

10.0 Digital Copyright Issues

10.1 Question: Do you need permission to provide a hyper link in a Web site to a page in another Web site?
Answer: There is no Canadian or U.S. case law that specifically answers this question. There have been out-of-court settlements which suggest that if you hyperlink to a home page, then permission is not necessary, and if you link to an internal page in a Web site then permission is necessary. As such, it is a risk management decision your enterprise must make, and the decision may vary depending on the type of site to which you are linking. (2008-1)

10.2 Question: Can a library scan an article from a journal that it has in print format in its collection?
Answer: Owning a print article does not mean that you own the copyright/reproduction rights in that article. If you want to digitize an article in your possession, you need to obtain permission from the rights holder of the article before digitizing it. If you are obtaining permission to digitize the article, you may at the same time, ask for additional permissions such as the right to post the article on your intranet or circulate it internally in PDF. (2009-2)

10.3 Question: Is it legal to add a watermark to a digital image that you legally acquired from a photographer?
Answer: This is likely not a violation of copyright. In an extreme case, a photographer or other copyright owner may claim that it violates their moral rights and harms their reputation -- however unlikely too since the purpose of the watermark is to protect copyright. You can always ask the copyright owner before placing the watermark on the image.

10.4 Question: My organization purchased an electronic version of a journal article for purposes of research by one of our employees. May we store this electronic article on our Intranet or on the library's server?
Answer: You should check the purchase order or license that accompanied the article. Were there certain rights and conditions placed on the article when you purchased it? What uses are permissible? If the PO or the license is silent on this issue, then you must obtain permission to use the article in any way in which it will be reproduced or distributed, other (presumably) than for the personal use of the researcher who ordered it. (2009-4)

10.5 Question: I have published an e-book and am distributing it for free, however, I do not want others to redistribute it without my permission. How can I do this?
Answer: One option is to use technology (some sort of digital rights management) to prevent redistribution of your electronic book. Another option is to have your readers sign a license agreement that they will not further distribute the book. Another option is to have copyright information/notices in your book to educate and warn others that any copying or sharing of it is not permitted without your consent. A combination of some of the above may work too.

12 May 2009

Want to work in copyright law?

Occasionally, I need assistance with research, writing, editing and online teaching. If you have the personality to work as a "virtual assistant" and have some knowledge of copyright law and licensing and you are an excellent researcher and writer, please email me at "lesley at copyrightlaws dot com". This would be sporadic work for someone looking for some extra money with some extra time, or to increase their exposure to copyright law and licensing issues.

If you have any experience in formatting e-books and other e-publications, please mention that when you email me.

I've received several email enquiries about being a virtual assistant and will reply to all of them -- it may take a bit of time so please be patient.



05 May 2009

7.0 License Agreements

7.1 Question: My organization has been offered a license agreement for a database. We want to license the database but cannot use it as we need to under the terms and conditions of the license.
Answer: Except for click-through, Web wrap or shrink wrap agreements, most licenses are negotiable. If you are faced with a license that does not meet your needs and does not appear to be negotiable, explain to the publisher how an amended agreement would better meet your needs, and try to open a discussion and negotiation to ensure that the final license is one that works for you. (2006-4)

7.2 Question: How do I determine what rights should be set out in a license agreement?
Answer: Determine how the content will be used, then ensure that the license reflects these uses. It is best to determine these rights in advance to ensure that you are meeting your needs and not simply reacting to the licensing offer from the content owner. Consult various people in your organization, from your lawyer to your researchers, consultants and librarian. (2007-1)

7.3 Question: How do you define “commercial use” or nonprofit use” in a digital license agreement?
Answer: There are no guidelines or exact definitions of these and other terms in a license agreement. The parties signing the agreement need to agree on the wording of any definition. Take the time to discuss and define these and other terms as they relate to the scope of permissible uses under the agreement. Begin your definitions by a dictionary definition of that term, then modify that definition to meet your needs. (2007-2)

7.4 Question: Why do we have to pay sometimes for journals that are very old and obviously in the public domain?
Answer: There are several possibilities. One, there may be a new copyright in a collection of journals and you are paying a fee for the collection as a whole rather than the underlying individual public domain journals. Two, the journals may be edited and the new portions of the journals may have a new copyright in them. Third, you may be paying a fee to access the journals rather than a copyright fee. (2009-2)

Added November 3, 2009:
7.5 Question: If an article has a Creative Commons ("CC") license, does that mean that the article may be freely reproduced?
Answer: No, you need to read the CC license. There are different CC licenses allowing different uses from "full" use of an item to very limited use of the item without authorized from the content owner.

For information on licensing issues, see: www.licensingdigitalcontent.blogspot.com.