Some Myths About Copyright

  • Plagiarism is not a legal issue it's an ethical one. Giving credit to the author does not exonerate you from complying with copyright. Denying credit will weigh against you, though.
  • A notice serves to strengthen the protection but it is no longer a requirement. It is best to assume a work is copyrighted until proven otherwise.
  • Giving away copies of a work like music, without charging is a violation of the law even if the work has no commercial value.
  • Copyright law is mostly civil law and so you could get sued, but you won't be charged with a crime. The rights accorded to criminal offenders therefore, do not apply. However, it is now a felony to violate commercial copyright when more than 10 copies and a value of over $2,500 are involved. This has yet to be tested.
  • Because information is stored somewhere on an Internet server, it is fixed in a tangible medium and qualifies for copyright protection (except of course government documents, public domain, works dedicated to public domain). Being on the Internet does not make it public domain.
  • Just because you can easily download or print does not mean you may:
    • On the one hand, it is a reasonable assumption that when a copyright owner uploads a work there is an implied license to download it for personal use (although this has yet to be tried in court).
    • On the other hand, only the legitimate owner can upload the work and Internet users have no way of knowing who put it there in the first place.
    • On the other hand, someone who innocently downloads an illegally uploaded work, only for personal purposes of course has done nothing wrong.
    • On the other hand, the courts have determined that a person who wrongfully uploads a work can be held liable for copyright infringement.