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Sunday, March 05, 2006

Some facts for copyright thieves

Chris Elphick has recently complained about breaches of copyright in relation to his online publications. Upon a little investigation, I've found a number of my images on other people's websites, entirely without my permission. Copyright laws are just as applicable online, as they are in the real world, and breaches are therefore just as easy to prosecute.

From the moment someone creates a work, whether it's a book, photograph, song, etc, that work is immediately protected by copyright laws. Contrary to popular belief, a copyright owner does not have to register their work anywhere, in order to establish ownership of that work. The law confers rights the instance a work is created. Similarly, just because there is no © symbol appearing anywhere on someone's work, that does not mean it is not protected by copyright legislation. Unless copyright has expired, or that person has specified that they're waiving their copyright protection, you can be sure that work is protected. You, therefore, do not have a right to use that work in any way whatsoever, without the express permission of the author or artist. Copyright in artistic or literary works normally only expires seventy years after the death of the last remaining author of that work. So, until seventy years after the death of an artist, these are the things you may NOT do with their work:

copy, rent, lend, give copies away, perform, broadcast, display to the public or adapt.

Therefore, stealing someone's online images and text, and then using them as if they were your own, is clearly illegal. The stupidity of people never ceases to amaze me. Just because someone's work is freely available on the Internet, that does not grant you the freedom to take that work and display it elsewhere as if it were your own. It may also surprise copyright infringers to learn that copyright infringement is a criminal offence, and one which the courts do not take lightly. You could find yourself arrested and brought before a criminal court. If found guilty, you will face the possibility of an unlimited fine, or up to ten years imprisonment. So you see, stealing someone else's online efforts, and passing them off as your own, could have VERY serious repercussions.

And just in case anyone is wondering: I own the copyright to every piece of text I've composed here. I also own the copyright to every image you see here. I have no objection to anyone copying something for their own personal, non-commercial use. In other words, if you think one of my photos is nice, you're welcome to keep a copy on your computer. However, if you copy for commercial purposes, rent, lend, give copies away, perform, broadcast, display to the public or adapt ANYTHING I include on this site - I'll see you in court.

1 comment:

thebillies said...

That's awful. I don't even know if anyone has used my work. How on earth could I ever find out? I don't really go to that many online places to notice. But your work is yours and nobody should try and copy it.