Fair use is a copyright principle based on the belief that the public is entitled to freely use portions of copyrighted materials for purposes of commentary and criticism. If you write or publish, you need at least a basic understanding of what is and is not fair use.
When a work is no longer protected under copyright law, it is said to be "in the public domain." Most works enter the public domain because their copyrights have expired. To find out whether a work is available to use without permission, check when it was published, whether the copyright has expired, and whether the copyright has been renewed.
If you use samples in your commercially released music, you often need legal permission -- referred to as sample clearance. Failure to get the proper permission could lead to serious consequences: lawsuits or the inability to distribute your music to the public. But you don't always need permission. It pays to learn when you do and don't need sample clearance.
Usually teachers may tape TV programs and show them to students without violating copyright law if they follow a set of guidelines called the "Guidelines for Off-Air Recording of Broadcast Programming for Educational Purposes". Many PBS programs allow teachers to tape and use programs without following the rules set forth in the guidelines.
If you plan to use samples in your musical compositions, you may need to get permission to avoid legal trouble. Unfortunately, getting permission is not always easy. Here are some ways an independent artist can obtain sample clearance.
In a contract for the production or sale of your artwork, you can do one of two things: license your artwork or assign your work. An assignment is like selling your home -- you usually give up all ownership rights to your art. A license is akin to renting your home -- you temporarily transfer your rights but you retain ownership of the art.
Consignment sales come with plenty of risks. Consider the artists left holding the bag when a Minneapolis gallery filed for bankruptcy owing artists $97,000. Said one artist at the time, "We're the canaries down the coal mine. When the gas comes we're the first to die." So what's an artist to do? There
For an artist who successfully licenses her artwork, royalty payments provide welcome additional income. But in order to maximize profits, an artist should take the time to negotiate a good royalty deal. Before signing on the dotted line, learn the ins and outs of royalty payments and figure out what works for you.
Foreign licensing of your artwork can be lucrative but it can also be a minefield. If the licensee is a cheat or scoundrel, you could end up wasting time and money suing the licensee in a foreign court and trying to collect a judgment overseas. To protect yourself, research the reliability of the company, get up to speed on trade terminology, and draft a solid license agreement.
The creator of a copyrighted work does not always own the copyright. In some cases other persons or entities own the copyright. There are also rules governing copyright ownership when two or more people create the work. Finally, copyright owners can assign rights to the copyright to others, particularly for the purpose of marketing the protected work.
One of the best ways for software authors to protect their work is to register it with the U.S. Copyright Office. Registration is easy and cheap. And, it provides significant benefits if you have to enforce your copyright in federal court.
A written software development agreement is key to getting the product you want (if you are the client), getting paid (if you are the developer), preventing disputes, and providing ways to solve problems if they develop. And, if the parties end up in court, it establishes their respective legal duties. You don't need a lawyer to draft a software development contract -- you can do it yourself. But be sure to include these basic provisions.
You may have written an outstanding song with a fabulous melody, great lyrics, and memorable hooks. Yet your work doesn't stop there. Songwriting raises many legal issues such as: who gets the credit for a song, how are royalties split, can you claim tax deductions for home studios, and should you register a copyright. Here are ten tips to help manage the legal and business side of your songwriting.
Many artists draw upon nature for their artwork. Yet protecting such artwork from copying is tricky. Generally, you can't claim rights to nature because the birds, bees, flowers, and the like are in the public domain. Yet in some instances copyright law and design patent law can provide protection.