Monday, October 23, 2006

Copyright (first of two articles)

For more than a year, I have been writing articles for the Western NY Library Resources Council newsletter called WNYLRC Watch. All of the articles have been specific to activities occurring in that region, but two recent articles are more generic.

Below is the first of two articles for the WNYLRC Watch focused on copyright. Tomorrow I'll publish here the second article. (BTW Privacy and publicity will be dealt with in future Watch articles.)

When digitizing materials you must understand concerns related to intellectual property issues (i.e., copyright), privacy and publicity. In this WNYLRC Watch, letÂ’s begin to look at copyright, then continue with copyright, then privacy and publicity in future articles.

The owner of the copyright is given the following rights (from

  • To reproduce the work in copies or phonorecords;
  • To prepare derivative works based upon the work;
  • To distribute copies or phonorecords of the work to the public by sale or other transfer of ownership, or by rental, lease, or lending;
  • To perform the work publicly, in the case of literary, musical, dramatic, and choreographic works, pantomimes, and motion pictures and other audiovisual works;
  • To display the work publicly, in the case of literary, musical, dramatic, and choreographic works, pantomimes, and pictorial, graphic, or sculptural works, including the individual images of a motion picture or other audiovisual work; and
  • In the case of sound recordings, to perform the work publicly by means of a digital audio transmission.

We normally think of the first five rights, but -- with the ability to digitize audio -- it is important to recognize the last one.

Notice that the owner of the copyright has these rights. Who is the owner? The original owner is the creator of the work. For example, the author of an article. However, the creator can transfer the rights to someone else. For example, an author may transfer all of some of the rights to the publisher of the work. All or some? Yes. Each right is different and distinct. The creator can transfer all of the rights to someone else or just specific rights. This can make it difficult when trying to clear the copyright on a work, since you must understand which rights you need, then figure out who owns those rights, find that person (or organization) and ask for permission to use that right.

Next WNYLRC Watch --– What is the process for clearing copyright?

Resources: There are many excellent resources on copyright. Here are several to get you started.

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