The Importance of Copyright - University of Illinois Extension

The Importance of Copyright
I’m just a kid working on a project, why
should I care about copyright?
What is copyright?
• The legal ability of the author/creator of a work
– Assert ownership of the work
– Profit from its use
– Protect it from uses that might diminish its value
What do we mean by author or creator?
Writer of books – fiction or non-fiction
Writer of music and lyrics
– Painter
– Sculptor
What do we mean by work?
Music lyrics
Music melody
What forms can the work take?
Printed page
Sound recording
Video recording
Anything else tangible
– A melody in your head isn’t copyrighted until written
down or recorded
I know the perfect song for my 4-H video
project. Can I use it?
• It depends
– Is it in the Public Domain?
– Did you receive permission from the copyright owner?
– Is it your own, original work?
• If you can answer “yes” to any of those
questions, you might be able to use it
But I paid for the download. Isn’t it mine?
• You paid to download for your personal
• Any republication, such as putting the music
under a video that you post to You Tube or show
to others may be a copyright violation
I hear music under You Tube videos all the
time. How does that happen?
• You Tube does have a way to use music that
has been pre-approved
– Here’s a link
– Here’s You Tube’s general Copyright Policy
I really want to use the music I’ve chosen.
Are there any other ways?
• You can try to get permission
– Copyright owner is listed on CDs
• © 2011 Green Tree Music
– For downloads
• On I-Tunes the copyright owner is usually listed in the upper
left corner of the album listing, just below the cover artwork
and price
• Other online sources vary
Ok, I know who owns the copyright, now
• Do an internet search on the copyright holder to
find contact information.
• Write a short letter describing how/why you want
to use the music…that is 4-H project, school
project, etc. Be clear you aren’t selling
anything. Ask for permission.
• Don’t make it a fan letter. Remember the
copyright holder is the writer, not always the
same as the performer.
Is there an easier way?
• Expand your project a bit
– Gather some musically talented friends
– Write and perform your own music
• It can be part of the fun of the project and You
will own the copyright!
I never thought of that. You mean I own the
copyright to my finished project?
• Absolutely! Even before it is done. Once
anything has been recorded and saved in some
form, even on a hard drive, it is copyrighted.
• You do NOT have to register anything or claim
your copyright, it happens automatically.
• However, if you end up with something very
special you might want to sell, seek additional
advice about registration
Ok, that covers music. How about using a
photo or video clip I found on the Internet?
• Pretty much the same process applies.
• If the copyright is stated, use that to search for
contact information.
• If it isn’t, you’ll have to use a little detective work
to try to find the owner.
• If you can’t, it is safest to move on to a different
photo or clip.
• Remember, if you found it on the web, the owner
can, as well.
I’m not trying to sell someone else’s work,
doesn’t that make a difference?
• In short, no. There is no automatic exception for
educational or non-profit purposes.
• There is a concept called “Fair Use” but there
are some specific rules that make it unlikely it
could be employed as a defense.

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