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.


Nicole said...

I am wondering of you could set me on the right path regarding this issue:

A college audio website would like to use "music in production" on their site.  They want to create promos for their talk shows by using 'voice overs' on faded down music.  I have checked with the Canadian collectives protecting copyright for print works and musical works and neither of them have a tariff for this.  Does that mean the employees of this audio website will have to chase the copyright permission directly from the creator?

Copyrightlaws.com said...

Hi Nicole, there are several music rights involved when putting music on a Web site. Have you spoken with the music-related collectives including SOCAN and CMRRA? A list of collectives is on the site of the Copyright Board of Canada. If this use is not covered by a collective, yes you would then have to directly obtain permission from the rights holder of the music.

Jenifer said...

Hello Lesley. I have read that anything printed 1923 & prior is considered public domain. Can images that were published prior to 1923, be scanned, digitally altered (as in colors improved, smudges and artifacts removed, etc) and then made available/sold as a digital image to artists for use in their own work? Thank you! JN

Copyrightlaws.com said...

Hi Jenifer, copyright duration in the US is very complicated because of statutory changes to the duration of copyright over the years. You may want to review the copyright rules and ensure that the work you are using are in fact in the pubic domain. If they are in the public domain, all rights have ceased in terms of copyright and you may reproduce the work in any manner.

Gabriel said...

I work in a k-12 school library and we own lots of VHS. As we're transitioning in our use of technology, is it acceptable to make DVD copies available for teachers, or would I need to seek out individual licenses to make such copies? Are there legal options for making such copies?

Copyrightlaws.com said...

Hi Gabriel, every country's laws would be different on this issue. Check your country's laws to see whether schools of any nature or perhaps their libraries may change the format of a work without obtaining copyright permission. Sometimes this may only be possible if the earlier format is difficult to read or a commercial copy in the new format is not easily available at a reasonable price.

Learning said...

I am hoping that you can answer a copyright question that I have been trying to answer for the last few weeks. I need to know if copyright infringement occurs if an employee either highlights or adds textbox comments using Adobe Acrobat tools on journal article provided by a journal publisher as a PDF. The scenario is that an employee reads a PDF journal article, sees something of interest, adds a comment [by selecting "Sticky" Note from Comment & Markup menu and writing a short comment] OR highlights text [by using the highlighter from Comment & Markup menu], and then saves the PDF journal article. This PDF would them be sent to another employee or employees within the company. The original PDF is covered under our CCC agreement. So, I know if is OK to share the original PDF within the company. I think the real question is if a derivative work has actually been made. Any advice you can give on this copyright question will be most appreciated.

Copyrightlaws.com said...

Hi Learning, interesting question. First issue is whether you may share the original PDF with others in your organization. Has a derivative work been made? Doesn't sound like the original was changed, there are just some new sections. So perhaps the new sections have copyright protection on their own, separate from the original article. Of course an issue like this could only be decided by a court -- I'm just throwing out some thoughts!

Alex Franke said...

Hello! Great blog!

I have some 90-year-old German family postcards. On the front are images that I understand are now out of copyright (due to age), and on the back is the handwriting of an ancestor. I want to make them available online (front & back together) as a research resource, but I want to be able to control the distribution of the images. (e.g. I don't want people to just take all the images and create their own library because I've spent a lot of time scanning/organizing these and I want them viewed on the site and in the format that I specify.)

They have never been "published" digitally before, nor have they been made available as a collection before.

Will US copyright law protect me here?

Copyrightlaws.com said...

Hi Alex, assuming you live in the U.S., U.S. copyright law will protect any portions which are not in the public domain. The duration is life plus 70 of the author of the works. Although the law may protect such works, once the works are placed on the Internet, it is hard to know who is using those works. You may choose to post low resolutions copies, partial works, copies with watermarks and other technology that can be used to track protected works. Note also, that once on the Internet, the use of those works may be subject to the laws in the countries where the works are used and not just in the U.S.

Nick said...


The school I work for would like to put digital videos that we receive from book publishers onto a streaming server. The problem is that some of the videos are in a codec that will not be accepted by the server. As an example the video is in quicktime and we need it to be in .wmv. Is it ok to change the codec of the video so that in can be played on the server?