11 February 2010

Copyright for creators

This guide is available in print from the NWHC library.

As consumers of information, music, films and other works, we come across Copyright which is a measure protecting the authors’ rights.

Any content we create is also protected by Copyright. We take photos, compose and record music, create PowerPoint presentations, write blogs and computer games, twitter etc. Other people should not use the works created by us (e.g. publish our texts on their blogs, perform our music on public, use our photographs in newsletters) without our permission or at least acknowledging us as their authors.

There are exceptions to this rule, most notable are: performing, copying or lending works for educational purposes, and using works for personal study or research.

Copyright is an automatic right. The author does not have to do anything special for her/his rights to be respected and protected by law.

For more details about Copyright (as well as Top 10 Copyright Myths) see http://www.copyrightservice.co.uk/copyright/

Creative Commons

The traditional forms of Copyright enforcement are often less helpful for digital works (digital photographs, computer stored music, website templates etc.) than for more traditional ones like printed books and films on DVDs.

Nowadays, we are happy to share our works with other people and upload them online where it’s easy to copy and make changes to them. At the same time we may want to be assured that other people do not present our works as their creation.

For this purpose, a new set of licenses was created. It is called Creative Commons. These licenses allow a creator to be quite specific about the ways he/she wants those works to be used; for example, it is possible to specify that a work can be freely copied or shared providing it is properly attributed to the author, that it cannot be used for commercial purposes and cannot be changed in any way.

All the Creative Commons licenses are explained in a formal, but easy to understand language at http://creativecommons.org/international/uk/.

Normally, it is sufficient to add to a work or its metadata (e.g. each mp3 file carries data about the title, composer, performer of the track etc.; this is called metadata; normally all the digital works like photographs, videos etc. carry metadata too) a short phrase like This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 UK: England & Wales License.

There is a tool which can help to choose an appropriate license and its wording (as well as with registering a work if it’s to be uploaded online) - http://creativecommons.org/choose/.

A number of large websites use Creative Commons. The most notable is Flickr. Millions of people use those licenses for their simplicity and flexibility.

There are search engines which allow finding Creative Commons licensed works, e.g. http://search.creativecommons.org/. Also Google’s advanced search allows to filter down images according to their license, e.g. to look for only those which can be freely copied and legally shared.

For more information about Copyright for digital works, see a book Digital Copyright by Paul Pedley - http://bit.ly/5hdpYu.

Copyright for creators by Ihar Ivanou, North Warwickshire and Hinckley College, is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 UK: England & Wales License.

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