Jan 26, 2005, 9:34 AM
Post #1 of 4
It comes up again and again, "copyright."
Everyone has an idea, but few ever get the _law_ right.
While you may feel it's wrong for someone to copy your design, or work from your pattern, or make and sell things like yours, *YOU* are wrong. Not them.
Copyright protects the WORDS (and drawings or photos) you create to express your ideas *NOT* the ideas.
If you have a unique idea, one that is superior to what is out there, for a PRODUCT or something tangible, you can get a PATENT to give you a certain amout of time to capitalize on it, before it becomes public domain. Ideas DO NOT belong to one person, only the implementation of one might for a short while.
An example that came up, is teaching from a magazine article.
No matter what the magazine or author might try to claim, you can make as many copies of the design as you want, sell them, give them away, or anything else you want to do with them -- AS LONG AS YOU DO NOT COPY THE ARTICLE!
So, if you teach a class on the pattern, you either can work from one or a few originals, require everyone to have their own copy of the magazine, or simple demonstrate it from your own copy.
There is NOTHING wrong with that!
You may feel it's wrong. You may want to gripe about it. But it is 100% LEGAL. No copies of the PRINTED or PUBLISHED work were made, and copyright law was not violated.
Charging for the class makes no difference, as long as no copies were made.
If you took your copy, got it blown up to 24x40 to stand up in front of a class, for profit, you have entered a grey area. I won't claim one way or the other that you did, or did not, violate copyright. There might be some other aspects of the law involved in this particular instance. But I wanted to bring that up.
When a How-to article is published, there are also IMPLIED permissions, that can't be abridged. You can't sell a product saying "go ahead and make this" then turn around and say "No you can't."
If a magazine is marketed or sold to libraries, then those "group" permissions and/or "shared" permissions are reinforced. A library makes a single (or few) copies available to MANY. Most publications TRY to get into libraries, so people may be encouraged to get a subscription. THis self-serving motivation also goes to reinforce the flip-side which falls under the fair-use.
Fair-use does not mean making copies for others, or for classes, or even for schools. It does mean you have the right to use YOUR COPY (and make copies of your copy) for your OWN USE, whatever that use might be -- Including TEACHING!
Books and magazines are there to spread knowledge, and to protect our freedoms. Teaching and passing on knowledge is protected, and encouraged.
So in summary, the copyright law is there to protect the actual WORK in WORDS & IMAGES (etc), that a person creates, NOT their IDEAS.
PATENTS can protect your ideas - for a short time.
Trademarks can protect specific images and words associated with you (eg: Disney, which is why they _can_ limit or license the products or kits made with their trademarked characters).
If you don't make or distribute copies of a printed work (on line, from magazines or books), if you create your own descriptions or instructions to make something ,and you don't use someone elses actual work, you will not violate copyright law.
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