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Play It Safe: Making Sure You're Not Committing Copyright Infringement
Copyright infringement is not an easy thing to explain. While it may seem as simple as not using someone else?s work, it?s not that easy. Thanks to the Electronic Frontier Foundation, and many other organizations, we have the ability to use others? works ? as long as we use it under ?fair use? laws. So what does fair use have to do with copyright infringement, and how can you utilize it?
Fair use laws are the conditions in which you can use a copyrighted work without having to pay someone royalties. This includes when you use a copyrighted work for educational or instructional uses, criticism of the work, commentaries on the work, news reporting about the work, teaching on the work (including multiple copies for classroom use), scholarship uses, and research. This is talked about fully in Section 107 of the Copyright Code (commonly called Fair Use) and is available for you to read at your local library.
Copyright Infringement in day-to-day life
Sometimes, if you?re writing a paper for work or school, or if you are creating a Power Point presentation, you need to use someone?s work that is already in copyright. So how do you use it without committing copyright infringement? All you have to do is ask ? the worst they can say is no, right? But, if they do say no, there are several items in the public domain which may help you to finish your project without having to commit copyright infringement.
What is the public domain, and how does it relate to copyright infringement?
Material that is not copyrighted is considered in the public domain ? you cannot commit copyright infringement on works in the public domain. These works include things that the copyright has expired on, or is not copyright-able ? such as government publications, jokes, titles, and ideas. Some creators (writers, musicians, artists, and more) deliberately put their work in the public domain, without ever obtaining copyright, by providing an affiliation with Creative Commons. Creative Commons allows people who create materials to forfeit some, or all, of their copyright rights and place their work either partially or fully in the public domain.
So, how do I ensure I?m not committing copyright infringement?
First of all, if you?re going to use someone else?s material, you may want to check the public domain to see if something is suitable for use, instead of trying to use someone else?s copyright. However, if you can?t find something suitable (and you can?t create something yourself), the next best thing (and your only legal course of action) is to find a piece that is in copyright, and contacting the copyright holder.
When you contact the copyright holder, make sure you tell them what you want to use their piece for ? whether it?s for your blog, podcast, or report ? and ask them if you can use it. You may have to pay royalties, or an attribution in your piece, or a combination of both. The creator may also place many limitations on when and how you can use their material. Follow all these instructions they give you, and you?ll be free and clear to use their work as you want.
Once you have permission to use a copyrighted work, you need to make sure you stay within the agreed-upon boundaries - if you veer outside their agreed terms, you may open yourself up for a copyright infringement lawsuit ? which can be nasty, costly, and time consuming. If you?re in doubt, before contacting the copyright holder, contact a copyright lawyer to ensure you?re following the law ? and protect yourself!
Find a copyright lawyer How to find copyright lawyer Finding a copyright lawyer isn?t as hard as it use to be, not as long as you actually know how to find a copyright lawyer. Today, there are more copyright lawyers popping up than there were 10 years ago. It seems that having a copyright or needing to protect one has become very popular with the way our technology is advancing. One way to find a copyright lawyer is to simply type the phrase, ?copyright lawyer? into a search engine and click on a few links. Many pages will actually allow you to choose the state in which you live to find one nearby. You?ll may even be given a choice of cities to choose from and if you are lucky enough one will be the actual town you live in. If not that is fine too, most copyright lawyers will have a phone number or an email address for you to contact them. Chances are they may even be willing to work with you online instead of you having to drive down and meet with them. Copyright lawyers know the world is changing and that most people searching for them want someone that actually practices what they preach. They want someone that knows the internet and is up-to-date with the times, not someone that has a degree in the field but only does it as a hobby. You want them because they?ve done several cases and know what they are doing and will have the time to do it. Which is probably why many people are able to find copyright lawyer homepages or their own websites, which means getting to know the lawyer before they even call them. Search the lawyers name and find out all there is to know about them before you hire him/her. You don?t want someone that has a lot of complaints about; you want the person that has high praises. When you are trying to find a copyright lawyer keep in mind exactly what it is you need them for. There are certain types of copyright lawyers they deal with different areas such as lyrics, stories, website designs and many other forms. For instance if you have just found out that someone has copied an article or a blog you have out there in cyberspace you may want to find a copyright lawyer that deals with copyright infringement, maybe a intellectual property lawyer. If you aren?t sure if you have stuff out there that is being copied you may want to check over at copyscape.com. Before you find a copyright lawyer you should make sure you have all your information in order. If you are insisting someone else is using your stuff, make sure you have proof. One good way to do this is by marking the date you wrote it and then sealing it in an envelope and mailing it to yourself. Making sure to never open the sealed envelope. Make sure any work you do online is saved to a disk so you?ll always have proof. Your lawyer should be able to tell you everything you need before meeting with him/her. Finding a lawyer wasn?t hard and you even learned how to find out if he/she is any good by browsing the internet. Don?t just take them at their word, find out for sure. Or if you are lucky enough, you may know someone that has already used one and can recommend a good one for you. Now that you know how to find a copyright lawyer, you just need to make sure you can afford him/her.
Reinventing Yourself Can Make a Difference in Landing a Better Job Are you stuck in a dead end job that isn?t getting you any closer to your goals? Did you wake up one morning to find yourself knee deep in a career you never wanted and one that is not making you happy? Many people feel this way ? it can be easy to ?fall into? a career that you think is temporary and then get so caught up in the day to day aspects of the job that never quite get out of it. If you find yourself in this kind of rut, the good news is that it is never too late to make a fresh start. No matter what your age is or what stage in your career you are at, you can always reinvent yourself to get closer to that perfect job. All you have to do is work up the courage to make the jump. The first step in giving yourself a career makeover is identifying exactly what you want to do. While it may be true that there is always time to reinvent yourself and start over, if you have to go through the process too many times, you are only wasting valuable time that could have been spent doing what you love. Don?t fall into yet another career that isn?t all that is it cracked up to be. Think about the things that you wanted to do when you first entered the working world. What was your dream job then? What career field was your passion? Is it still what you want to be doing today? Discover your dream, and then start building your goals around it. Once you know what you want to do, the time comes to start researching it. How do most people get started in the field? Will you need to start your own business, or are there companies out there already doing what you want to do? What kinds of entry level positions are available? Will you be able to do this in your town, or would moving to another city mean more opportunities for you? Before you make the leap, research your job options carefully. You may need to plan financially for the step you are about to take, so do your homework up front. Talking to other people in the field you want to enter is a great way to get actionable advice from people who have been there. When you know what kind of experience you will need to get started in the field of your dreams, think about the experience you have had in the past, and what you have done that matches up. This can mean either work related experience or things you have done as a hobby or class you have taken in school. Be creative here ? you may have experience you don?t even realize you have. For instance, if you want to open a bakery, and you are always in charge of the bake sale at your child?s school, this counts as experience. Comb through your history and pick out all of the things you have done that will give you a leg up in your new career. Last but not least, you have start creating a new image to present to the working world. Start over with a brand new resume, this time highlighting the experience you have this is relevant to your new career goals. Work on a great cover letter that explains your passion and why you want to switch fields. If you are starting your own business, work on building a website and creating a brand you can be proud of. The sooner you start living your new career, the sooner your dream job will fall into place.