Another Distraction

A somewhat eclectic blog by a woman who's easily distracted...

Saturday, April 11, 2009

I'll take "Copyright" for $200, Alex...

Once upon a time, I was a writer. Of sorts. I know--hard to believe, given the state of this blog, but it’s true. Not so long ago, I was paid to write. Still am, from time to time.

As a writer, both amateur and professional, and being someone who has done both "work for hire" and work where I retain my copyright, I suppose I have a particular sensitivity to copyright issues.

But even as a child, I learned that it was wrong to take credit--either explicitly or implicitly--for someone else’s work, or to copy without permission. As I got older, it also became clear that using someone else’s work for one’s own financial gain without permission was also Not Cool. Until recently, I thought this was a pretty universal experience. It never really crossed my mind that I’d run into adults who didn’t share this understanding.

But now I have. And apparently, they’re everywhere.

A couple of months ago, I was asked to help out on a project. We just needed to create a few brochures--and the contents had already been created. Turns out, the way the content was created for these brochures was largely by copying and pasting contents from a competitor’s brochure--word for word. I kid you not. There were other issues , too, but that was the biggie. And they lied to me about it when I asked where the content came from, but that’s another rant entirely… The scary thing is that when I put them on the phone with our lawyers to get an understanding of what copyright infringement is, they said, “but it was on the Internet, so it’s public domain--free to use”.


Let’s be clear--that is NOT the way it works. Just because something is on the Internet does NOT mean it’s in the public domain or free to use. A clue might be the copyright statement. I don’t know--I’m not a lawyer--I’m just sayin’… It probably wouldn’t hurt to check.

Mind boggling.

And now the same types of issues seem to be rearing their ugly heads in the knitting community. Wendy blogged about it back in February . Kate has recently blogged about it, and so has Pam.

I’m not going to re-hash their posts. I’ve linked to them, and I encourage you to read the posts for yourself. And then I would ask that if you see folks violating a designer’s copyright (or a writer's copyright, or an artist's copyright--or anyone's copyright, for that matter), that you call them on it. Gently. If it’s an honest mistake, they’ll fix it. If not, you might want to re-think where you do business.

Just my two cents.


At 8:11 AM, Anonymous pamela wynne said...

thanks for the smart post and the shout-out, Stephanie!


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