We attended another great event with AIGA Raleigh’s Lunch & Learn series. This particular one involved image rights with Pam Chestek, an intellectual property lawyer for Red Hat, Inc.
Pam discussed basic copyright principles, as well as the rights you as a user have vs you as a contractor. In America, copyright subsits at the time of creation but you must have registered it to contest copyright infringement. It might seem a bit confusing; many people confuse copyright registration with granting a copyright. They’re considered separate… rights, I suppose.
Creators are granted copyright as an automatic international right by the Berne convention, as well as other international conventions. Some countries don’t required copyrights to be registered while others require registration to provide evidence of authorship in case of copyright infringement. In America, registering a copyright is necessary for domestic copyright owners to sue regarding copyright infringement. Also, works published before January 1, 1923 are considered public domain.
Wonder why? I did! It’s because up until 1998, works could only be registered was 75 years.
Then we delved to the more nebulous action of inspiration. There are no hard or fast rules regarding being inspired by other work (not your own, of course). 10%? 20%? 30%? It’s hard to quantify where the line would be blurred between inspiration and copying. Basically, it’s best to err on the side of caution.
If you think you’re being shady, you’re probably being shady
Of course we also discussed the Creative Commons license! Man, I love them. It’s used by some big hitters, such as flickr, GlaxoSmithKline & whitehouse.gov. There are a variety of licenses from a user to choose from so I won’t go too in depth. Suffice to say, anything you’ll need… it’s there!
However, don’t forget, this doesn’t register your work. If you need to register a copyright, check out copyright.gov.