Ten Copyright Myths

At Ignite Dublin #4, held in TCD’s Science Gallery as part of last week’s Trinity Week celebrations, I gave a 20-slides-in-5-minutes presentation on Ten Copyright Myths, in part because the previous weekend saw the 300th anniversary of the first modern copyright statute, the Statute of Anne, 1710 (fascimile | transcript | wikipedia). For the day that’s in it, here’s a YouTube video of my presentation:

For those who don’t have 5 minutes to watch, here are the myths debunked:

  1. You don’t need to put the copyright symbol © on a text to claim copyright. All that matters is that the work is original.
  2. You don’t need to put it in an envelope and send it to yourself. If the work is original, then copyright just vests.
  3. There is no doctrine of fair use outside of the United States. Instead, there is a much more limited doctrine of fair dealing for the purposes of research or criticism.
  4. Just because something has been published on the internet doesn’t mean that it’s in the public domain. There’s a lot less in the public domain than you might think.
  5. Taking a work, and transforming it, still infringes copyright.
  6. Giving credit is important; but if the taking is a copyright infringement, giving credit doesn’t change that fact.
  7. Taking a copyright work, but not charging for your use, will still be an infringement if the taking is a copyright infringement.
  8. The fact that the original author is dead doesn’t mean the work is out of copyright. The copyright term is the life of the author plus seventy years.
  9. Creative Commons is a good development, but it’s just a system of licences or permissions, and it won’t change the copyright world.
  10. Finally, just because Google are copying books doesn’t mean the rest of us can: they have permission pursuant to a court settlement.

So, there you have it, ten copyright myths debunked. What others would you add to the list?