Frequently Asked Questions
These are the short answers. The detail of your situation may mean that the answers here are not 100% correct. This is because the law is shades of grey, rather than black and white and are always subject to interpretation and the specific circumstances of any case.
What is Copyright? What is the definition of Copyright?
You might have some great content that you want to put up online and you’re concerned that other people are going to “steal” it from you. So you want to find out what copyright is and how to use it to help you protect your content. Well, copyright is a bundle of legal rights for the protection of creative works – written, artistic, audio, film etc – from being copied, published, distributed, altering etc without your permission. Copyright in your works exists as soon as you create it, and can cover a bunch of different aspects of your work. Like the writing, the performance (speaking it) etc..
How do you get copyright protection? What is the process for obtaining copyright protection?
You work is protected by copyright as soon as you create it, but how do other people know that? You can use the universal symbol for copyright and put a date on it eg (c) 2010, to put people on notice. You should also include a notice in your terms and conditions as to what you allow people to do with your copyrighted work so they have no excuse to say “but I didn’t know I couldn’t do that…”.
The key to remember here is that if you are paying someone else to create your stuff, you need to get a written agreement from them that you own the copyright in what they are creating. I can help you with that. There is a basic copyright transfer agreement contained in the standard forms we give away with the 7 Legal Essentials product. You can buy it here or find out more here.
Do you have to register your copyright work before you get copyright protection – like trademarks?
No you don’t. Copyright in a work exists upon creation. So if you are not the creator, you need an agreement to get the copyright transferred to you. If you are worried that someone might argue with you as to who owns the copyright in what you’ve got, you can register your copyright work in the US and Canada with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (www.uspto.gov), or the Canadian Intellectual Property Office (www.cipo.ic.gc.ca). Those registers were set up to help people like you to prove in court that they own the copyright in whatever they have registered. Its not strictly necessary but if you think you’re going to have an argument its great risk management to get your work registered. In some cases you may need to register copyright in the US before you can enforce it.
Do you have to place a copyright statement on your web page to copyright protect it?
No you don’t have to have a © or copyright statement on your website to protect your copyright material. But, it does let other people know that you are serious about protecting the copyright you do have in your work. The © works as a legal notice to other people. so its not a bad thing to use it. If you have a forum or allow for comments on your website, you can also include a statement in your terms and conditions to prohibit people posting stuff on your website that has removed that © symbol from the work. This helps you protect yourself from claims of breach of copyright for stuff other people put up.
What should be included in your copyright notice?
There is no hard a fast rule about what you should or shouldn’t use in a copyright notice. The usual form that you can use if © followed by the year and the name of the copyright owner or licensee. eg. © 2010 LawForYourWebsite. You can also add “All rights reserved” with that to demonstrate that all different types of copyright in your work are covered. You don’t have to include a notice to be able to claim copyright protection. You can also explain in your terms and conditions what people may do or not do with your copyright works. I can help you with that. There is a basic copyright transfer agreement contained in the standard forms we give away with the 7 Legal Esssentials product. You can buy it here or find out more here. Or I can tailor something specifically for you.
What is not protected by copyright?
Unfortunatley you can’t protect your ideas with copyright. You can only protect a created work. So if you have a great idea for a TV program that you want to sell to a network, then you want to get people to enter into confidentiality and non-exclusion agreements before you share it with them. Titles and names are usually not long enough to attract copyright protection.
A quick Google search tells me that the longest book title in the world is: “Per favore dite a mia madre che faccio il pubblicitario lei pensa che sono un pierre e che quindi regalo manciate di free entry e consumazioni gratis a chi mi pare, rido coi vips, i calciatori le veline e le giornaliste, leggo Novella e mi fotografano i paparazzi, entro neI privé saltando la coda, bevo senza pagare, sono ghiotto di tartine e gin tonic, ho la casa piena di oggetti di design, conosco Paris Hilton, Tom Ford ed Emilio” which might just get there. Compare it to what is purported to be the world’s shortest poem:
“Lines on the Antiquity of Microbes” by Strickland Gillilan
– which is protected! Your trademarks might attract copyright protection if they are artistic in nature, rather than just words. Using a font available on most computers just won’t do it. There has to be something more distinctive than that involved.
What is the difference between a copyright and a trademark?
You really want the short answer? Ok, lets see. Your trademark is best protected by registration, but if you want international registration its going to cost you and take a fair amount of time. Your trademark doesn’t have to be creative to be protected. It does have to be distinctive rather than urbane in the industry you want to protect it in. You also have to nominate the industry or type of product when you go to register a trademark, so that registration does not simply cover the use of that name for everything.
Eg. You might try to register “Fish” as a trademark for stationary products. Regitration of “Fish” for stationary products will mean that you can stop others using the same trademark in that industry, but won’t stop a clothing manufacturer from creating a range of clothing under a brand name “Fish”. If you had a nifty artistic design of a fish to go with the trademark, and they copied that, you might have copyright protection on the fish.
Is there a time limit on a trademark or copyright?
Trademarks and copyright are different, and different in each country. As a general guide, if you have copyright protection for something, say you have an artistic logo that was especially designed. Copyright should last the life of the creator plus 50-70 years, depending upon when it was created. If copyright is now owned by your company, rather than by a person, then copyright protection should last for 95-120 years from the date of creation, whichever is shorter. You will need to check your local laws.
You can also register your specially designed logo as a trademark. Trademark protection usually lasts for 10 years from the date of registration. You do have to be careful that you actually use the trademark in that time, because registration can be challenged and may be revoked if you don’t use the trademark. That would not affect any copyright protection that you have over it. If you want to know a little more about copyright and trademark protection, have a read through my blogs.
Do all nations honor copyright laws?
Great question! Probably then next question is, can we even identify all nations with certainty at any point in time? The Berne Convention for the protection of Literary and Artistic Works is an international treaty of the United Nations. The effect of agreement to the Berne Convention is that signatory countries agree to adopt laws similar to that agreed in the Berne Convention, within a reasonable period of time. The World Intellectual Property Organisation (which is an agency of the UN) website (www.wipo.int) says that the Berne Convention has now been adopted by 164 countries. Part of the convention is that citizens in those countries are entitled to have their rights recognised in those countries. Enforcement of your rights is a whole different kettle of fish.
How do copyright and patent differ?
You can automatically gain copyright in something as soon as it is created. A bit like the answers to these questions. As I am writing, these answers are protected by copyright. If you look in my terms and conditions you will see that I have given permission for you to copy these answers for your personal use and for you to use in creating educational materials, but not for commercial purposes. Copyright is for the protection of creative and artistic works.
Patents have to be registered and don’t usually cover just written materials -although computer programs are covered, but that is because the program is designed to perform a function. Patents are designed to protect inventions, systems and processes. Functional things. You wouldn’t try and patent protect the contents of your website. You might if you have a particular system integral to the operation of your website – like a specially designed booking system.
How long does copyright last?
Didn’t we answer this one already? As a general guide, if you have copyright protection for something, say you have an artistic logo that was especially designed. Copyright should last the life of the creator plus 50-70 years, depending upon when it was created. If copyright is now owned by your company, rather than by a person, then copyright protection should last for 95-120 years from the date of creation, whichever is shorter. You will need to check your local laws.
When does a copyright expire?
As a general guide, if you have copyright protection for something, say you have an artistic logo that was especially designed. Copyright should last the life of the creator plus 50-70 years, depending upon when it was created. If copyright is now owned by your company, rather than by a person, then copyright protection should last for 95-120 years from the date of creation, whichever is shorter. You will need to check your local laws.
What happens to a copyright when someone dies?
Did you ever see the movie “About a Boy” staring Hugh Grant? Hugh Grant’s character doesn’t work, but has loads of money because his Dad wrote a very popular Christmas song, and as his son, he collects the royalties for a good long period of time. That’s what happens when someone who owns copyright dies. So, write a Will! If you own copyright in something, you’re kids, or whoever you leave your estate to, will be entitled to protect that copyright and receive any royalties until the copyright expires.
Who needs a copyright?
A better question would be – who needs to know about copyright? Anyone who creates stuff needs to be aware of copyright. So if you write an ebook, you need to know. If you paint or take photos, you need to know. If you make recordings or videos, you need to know. Anyone who uses stuff created by other people ALSO needs to know. If you use information downloaded from the internet, whether that is writing, photos, audios, animations or even software, you need to know.
Why is copyright important?
To make sure that you can protect your own rights. You didn’t spend hundreds of hours and thousands of dollars developing a great online business and bundles of products just so that someone else can profit from your hard work. The other reason is to make sure you do not breach the rights of other people. All those hardworking independent film makers, and all those other people doing just what you are doing, all need the ability to protect their work too.
Do we need disclaimers for medical / mental health / legal advice?
Disclaimers are used to reduce your risk profile. You need to assess what you think the risk is of having your site and representations challenged by either a pharmaceutical company, doctor, or even a potential customer.
If you need a disclaimer, is it easy to do it yourself or do you need a solicitor to word it?
You could use a generic disclaimer if you thought your risk profile was low, but consult a lawyer is you think your risk profile is not low. LawForYourWebsite can assist with drafting a disclaimer tailored to your product for just $97. Simply send us an email firstname.lastname@example.org with REQUEST FOR SERVICES in the subject line, or via the Contact Us page.
Do people involved in case studies need to sign anything to say it is ok to use their names, photos, etc in the book and for promotional material? If so, how should it be worded?
If you are going to use information identifying real people in your case studies, then yes, you will need a privacy release from each person involved so that you can use their name and photograph together without running into trouble. LawForYourWebsite can provide you with a one page privacy release/ permission for $97 that you can re-use with each person, and again in the future. Simply send us an email email@example.com with REQUEST FOR SERVICES in the subject line, or via the Contact Us page.
If we discuss a certain medication, do we need to get permission from the pharmaceutical company?
As long as you are talking about the product, and not using the product name as a trademark, you do not need permission. You may need a disclaimer, or to be careful with the wording to ensure that anything you say about the medication does not represent that you have the requisite medical training to make recommendations or provide medical opinion. It would be advisable to do this in addition to a more general disclaimer for the product as a whole. LawForYourWebsite can tailor a disclaimer for you for just $97. Simply send us an email firstname.lastname@example.org with REQUEST FOR SERVICES in the subject line, or via the Contact Us page.
Am I spamming even if I have a personal relationship with all of the email recipients?
Whether or not it is considered spam is not affected by the relationship, but the content of the email. If the email falls within the definition of a commercial email – which is any communication which makes an offer of investment, sale, opportunity etc, then you do need to comply with anti-spam requirements. Even if only sending your email to one person.
Are you a lawyer?
Yes. My name is Jeanette Jifkins and I spent many years studing law at the Queensland University of Technology, Australia. I hold a Bachelor of Laws Degree, a Master of Laws Degree and a Graduate Diploma in Legal Practice. My degrees were issued in my maiden name of Thomson. I am admitted to practice in the High Court of Australia and the State Courts of Victoria and Queensland, Australia. I am registered to practice in Queensland, Australia and belong to a number of professional organisations. You can find out more on the About page of this website.
Are the LawForYourWebsite products prepared by lawyers?
Lawyers are involved in the process of putting together all of the LawForYourWebsite products available on this website. For any other products recommended or sold via this website you will need to refer to the creators.
Does this website give legal advice?
The information contained in this website is legal information, but not legal advice. To obtain legal advice you need to consult a lawyer about your particular circumstances. As far as possible the information on this website has been designed to provide you with the basic assistance you need to do business. It is up to you whether you decide to use this information or obtain specific advice. That is a commercial and risk management decision for you. You can Contact Us to obtain a quote for specific legal advice.
Do the products only cover United States law?
The laws of different countries are covered in many of the products available through LawForYourWebsite. Some products are specific to particular countries like the US, UK or Australia and other products cover a variety of countries. In putting together these products the aim has been to provide information that is internationally relevant, not just limited to one country. The founder of LawForYourWebsite.com is based in Australia.
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Advanced Security information from Clickbank
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