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Saturday, May 9, 2009

Thoughts on Copyright

So, what can a person say that has never been said before?
What has been is what will be,
and what has been done is what will be done,
and there is nothing new under the sun.

Is there a thing of which it is said,
"See, this is new"?
It has been already
in the ages before us.

Ecclesiastes 1:9

A discussion of copyright led us to a little bit of research as to what's okay to copy and what's not.

According to US law, anything written "privately and originally" after 1989 is pretty much safely protected whether or not the author has registered a copyright. Legally, you may not copy someone else's stuff and they could come after you, unless you are just commenting on it, making fun of it, teaching it, etc, and then you can only use short and attribuited "quotes" from the original work.

This seems like an amazing piece of legislation to me. Nowadays there is SO much being written and blogged and in other ways communicated, that how can one know or better yet, prove that what one writes is one's very own? I can sit here and type this entry about copyright, but I've just come from several websites explaining copyright. Who's to say that some of what I'm thinking wasn't because of what they wrote... what if what I say sounds a lot like what they said, even though it's been through the mill and spit back out again? Would that be an infringement of copyright? What if someone is thinking the very same thing as I am and writes it on their own blog at this very moment? After all, someone has said, great minds think alike!

Sheesh. I don't get it. How does anyone write anything that hasn't been said or thought of before, and perhaps somewhere written down? Once they do write something, how do they prove to the world that it is original to them... are there any original thoughts?!

We started looking into copyright laws and I ended up perhaps a little foggier than before.

Here's what we did learn though:

1) All copiable (written, digital, photographic, printed, tape recorded, etc) information created after 1989 -1978 according to other sources, is copyrighted unless expressly noted that it is in the public domain.

2) Yes, one may never actually be called to attention by the author themselves or punished by law, but it IS still very much a matter of respect for others and of the law.

3) We should still be creative... but, honestly... not taking advantage of another's creativity, yet learning from it. Always giving full credit where credit is due.

4) Copyrights can expire. 70 years after the death of the author, the copyright expires. (But I remain foggy about whether widows, kids, grandkids, executors can renew?)

Maybe I've brought up a question or two that remain unanswered that have piqued your curiosity... Go for it! Research it for yourself.

A few links to explanations of copyright:

10 Big Myths About Copyright explained
US gov't site for Teachers and Students
Brief intro to Copyright by Brad Templeton
US gov't site on copyright
The Copyright Website


1 comment:

6intow said...

Very interesting indeed! My husband went to a conference for educators a few years ago and the authorities there basically said that the exceptions for educators are so broad it would be hard to violate copyright laws for items you plan to use in the classroom.

That has interesting implications for homeschoolers as well. In searching just now I came across a book I want to try to get my hands on:

The more I study, the more questions arise! Your post also reminded me of this song by the Newsboys (of all people), that says, "I dunno nothing that I haven't been taught, I dunno why I was born into the family I’ve got,
I dunno if I ever had an original thought, maybe not, maybe so, maybe later, I dunno." Not very eloquent, but still makes me think.

Thanks for sharing the links, I want to explore them more another time as well.


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